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Oops! Makes a Big Mistake [or, Strange Book Bedfellows, Part 1]

By Mark D. Roberts | Thursday, February 28, 2008


Warning: Parents, this post is inappropriate for children. (Actually, it’s not really appropriate for anyone, but I think it’s worth posting anyway.

Today I received a dozen or more emails from friends, including a comment from my mother, who had received a peculiar email promotion from It read, in part:

Dear Customer,

We’ve noticed that customers who have purchased or rated books by Mark D. Roberts have also purchased The Guys Guide to Having a Threesome by Don Williams. For this reason, you might like to know that The Guys Guide to Having a Threesome will be released on March 12, 2008. You can pre-order yours by following the link below . . . .

Product Description

Is your fantasy having two girls at once? . . .

No, this is not a sick joke. It is a genunie promotion. Ugh!

Like most Internet-connected folks in today’s world, I’m used to getting ugly spam in my inbox. But usually this comes from some questionable source overseas, not from a credible American company. I must say I’m insulted on behalf of those who have bought my books. I think it’s highly unlikely that many of these folks have purchased a book that instructs someone in sexual perversion.

I’m pretty sure I know why Amazon sent this promotion. It has to do with the name of author of the Threesome book, Don Williams. There is another author named Don Williams who has written several outstanding Christian books. In fact, I highlighted one of his books, Start Here, in a blog series I did a year ago. If you visit the Start Here page at and scroll down to “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought,” you’ll see five of my books listed.

When sends out promotional emails, I seriously doubt that any human being creates or even monitors them. The Amazon computers use a certain algorithm that matches potential buyers with new books. I expect the Amazon algorighm doesn’t distinguish between the different Don Williamses. So, as far as Amazon is concerned, buyers of books by Mark D. Roberts are likely to buy books by someone named Don Williams, no matter whether that Don Williams is an outstanding Christian pastor or a sleeze-bag who advocates immoral sexual activity.

So, for the record, let me say that:

1. I am quite sure that buyers of my books are not buying the Threesome book.

2. The Don Williams who has written excellent Christian books such as Start Here is no relation to the Don Williams who promotes sexual perversion. I guarantee it.

3. Amazon owes my book buyers an apology, since they were virtually libeled by the promotion. I wrote a note of complaint to Amazon asking for an apology to be sent to all who received the promotion. I haven’t heard back from them.

4. Amazon should improve its algorithms.

5. If you received one of those promotions, I’d encourage you to let know you didn’t appreciate it. Here’s a link to their customer service.

6. Things like this happen in life. Names get confused by computers, also by people. I remember a phone conversation I had some years ago with an agent of the IRS. He was looking for a Mark Roberts that owed lots of money for back taxes, but had flown the coop. I spent several minutes trying to convince the agent that I was not that Mark Roberts, and that he was wasting his time. Finally he stopped hassling me.

7. Don’t take anything you receive in your email inbox at face value. Ever. Increasingly, I’m receiving spam from . . . me. That’s right. I’m getting junk spam from At least that’s how it looks.

8. We live in a sad and sick world. But the only way we’re going to be salt and light in this world is by being out there in it. There will be times when we get slimed in the process. We should expect it.

9. If you received one of those promotional notices, don’t buy that book! Order Start Here by the other Don Williams instead.

Topics: Pet Peeves, Strange Book Bedfellows |

5 Responses to “Oops! Makes a Big Mistake [or, Strange Book Bedfellows, Part 1]”

  1. Joseph Timothy Cook Says:
    February 28th, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Hey, Mark…I got that promo too. Just sent Amazon a strongly worded email. Good idea to use the blog to explain the mess-up.The worst part is that your Mom got it..ouch!!


  2. Mark Roberts Says:
    February 28th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Tim: The good news is that my mom has a pretty good sense of humor. Thanks for sending Amazon a note.

  3. James Arlandson Says:
    February 28th, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    There’s a “James Arlandson” out there who writes books on nudity. My last name is so rare (not like Williams or Roberts)that I’ve thought about talking with a lawyer. Believe me, the last name, combined with the first, makes both very rare indeed. It wouldn’t surprise me if the “naughty Don Williams” took the name of the Christian DW. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen to Mark D. Roberts!

  4. Mark Roberts Says:
    February 28th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    James: Strange! Well, equally strange, the most famous Mark Roberts in the world is the most famous streaker in the world. He’s the guy who has streaked at World Cup soccer events, etc. etc. There’s also a Mark D. Roberts who is a fine artist who publishes nude photographs, but of a very tasteful nature, near as I can tell.

  5. Responds | Says:
    February 29th, 2008 at 12:04 am

    […] Oops! Makes a Big Mistake [or, Strange Book Bedfellows, Part 1] […]


Thanks for your willingness to make a comment. Note: I do not moderate comments before they are posted, though they are automatically screened for profanities, spam, etc., and sometimes the screening program holds comments for moderation even though they're not offensive. I encourage open dialogue and serious disagreement, and am always willing to learn from my mistakes. I will not delete comments unless they are extraordinarily rude or irrelevant to the topic at hand. You do need to login in order to make a comment, because this cuts down on spam. You are free to use a nickname if you wish. Finally, I will eventually read all comments, but I don't have the time to respond to them on a consistent basis because I've got a few other demands on my time, like my "day job," my family, sleep, etc.

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