While the Academy addresses
the legal and marketing ramifications of the pirated books, Red
Book Editor David W. Kimberlin,
M.D., FAAP, said the most important issue is what it potentially
means for the health and safety of
“We know what’s in the Red Book, but what we
don’t know is what’s in those counterfeit copies,”
he said, citing an example of medication doses and
other critical medical information that might not be
accurate in the fake copies.
“Many pediatricians may not be aware they have
a counterfeit product in their possession,” Dr. Kimberlin added. “They may think it’s reliable when it’s
not, and that’s very dangerous. Obviously, it’s very
concerning to me and to all the members of the
Committee on Infectious Diseases (COID) and
Massive undertaking, review
More than 1,000 hands touch each edition of the
Red Book during its production, now in its 79th
year. Each edition reflects multiple layers of review
and takes a full three years to pull together — what
Dr. Kimberlin describes as a massive undertaking.
“The Red Book … is a very up-to-date, concise
resource available to pediatricians around the U.S.
and around the world to assist them in the care of
their patients,” he said. “It reflects the settled science
… but also reflects in those situations where there’s
not absolute data on exactly what to do, the mea-
sured opinion of the world’s experts that make up
COID as to what would be a reasonable (approach).”
That includes issuing errata and updates between
the publication of editions of the book, which buyers
of counterfeit editions miss out on.
Medical reference books, such as the Red Book,
with many editions (reflecting perennial sellers) and
pages printed in black and white are especially vulnerable to piracy.
The proliferation of lower-cost technology to copy
logos, pages and packaging, plus greater consumer
web access and multiple channels for international distribution, make book counterfeiting a big
problem for publishers. Add to that the difficulty
of identifying “anonymous” sellers online and the
sheer number of items being offered on sites such
However, technology also can help discourage
the practice. Among the processes the Academy is
investigating is one called void pantograph technol-
ogy. When pages are copied, a word such as VOID
appears across the copied page.
Experts recommend one way to avoid purchasing
a counterfeit book is to read the online reviews, such
as the following excerpts from buyers of counterfeit
Red Books on Amazon:
“…the pages are coming out from the center. Very
“…when I opened the book a page was not intact,
this makes it difficult to thumb through…”
Dr. Kimberlin said it’s important to raise aware-
ness of the risks of acquiring the counterfeit copies.
“It puts the responsibility on purchasers, as well,”
he said, “to make sure they are getting a legitimate
product from a legitimate source.”
• Red Book on shopAAP, http://bit.ly/2t5Iop4
• Red Book Online, https://redbook.solutions.aap.org/
Which Red Book is real?
Online images of the book’s cover and pages can be deceiving. At first glance, a pirated
copy (right) can appear much like the authentic version. But counterfeit copies AAP
staff purchased from online re-sellers have flaws, including the following:
• “Diseases” is misspelled on the book’s spine.
• Some words are missing or incorrectly listed on the back cover.
• Pages can be missing or fall out easily. The binding is sub-par.
• Font sizes are different.
• Photos are grainy.
• The paper is lower quality and has a gray tinge.
• The Academy’s Della Robbia seal is different.