Saturday, July 04, 2015

FAQ – How To Buy My Books Discreetly

This FAQ is intended to explain the entire process of buying my books discreetly and how your confidentiality is preserved at each step. Please read it thoroughly and feel free to email me with any questions at

(1) How are these books discreet?

To help keep these books secret, I’ve done several things to offer different layers of protection to keep people from finding them, opening them, and recognizing what they are:
1. First, these books will come in a pdf format. That means they don’t look like books, they won't have a book cover that automatically appears, and your computer won’t try to read them as books. You can instead read them through the Adobe Acrobat Reader (on your computer, a tablet or even a phone) rather than a normal book reader like a Kindle or a NOOK. That means no one will stumble upon them on your reader.

2. As a pdf, you can hide them. (See below for how to do that.) To help that, I will send them with file names like AMSYS01WS rather than a book title, so they won't draw attention sitting on your computer/device. They should blend right in with all the other files.

3. Unless you request otherwise, I will password protect these files. This will prevent someone from opening them without knowing the password should they happen upon them.

4. Even if they somehow find them and get through the password, the first 28 pages of each book appear to be garbage. It begins with gibberish text as if it is a corrupted file. Then it turns into the opening of a lousy spy novel. To see the real book, they would need to keep going well into the file.
So what you have is a file that doesn’t look like a book, which you can hide on your machine or even take off the machine, which is password protected, and which looks like gibberish if it’s opened. That’s what I mean by discreet. Obviously, I can’t guarantee that no one will discover these books or find a way to open them, but if you use caution, the chances of that happening are truly minimal.

(2) How do I hide them?

Here's the key question! Once you buy the books, no doubt you will want to hide them. Here's how:
1. For maximum protection, get a USB memory stick (example). Copy a couple system directories to that stick so the stick looks full of files and directories. Copy the pdfs into the middle of those somewhere so they blend in. Then password protect the memory stick. When you want to see the books, you just stick the memory stick into the USB port and open the pdf files directly from there. That way they aren't even on your computer to be found.

For someone to find them now, they would need to find the memory stick, break through the stick's password protection, figure out that the pdf files are important, and break the password protection on those files to open them. Also, dismissing the stick is easy if someone finds it. Just tell them you found it in the parking lot at work and haven't had a chance to see what's on it yet.

Do not insert these in a work computer, however!

2. Alternatively, you can keep them in your email account as attachments to the emails and open them directly from there. If you use Hotmail, it will actually let you open the pdf in Hotmail itself in a preview panel. Yahoo does this too. I think Gmail does as well. The benefit of this is that it stays off your harddrive and it stays behind the password protection of your email account. So anyone wanting to see the pdfs would need to find your email account and get through the password protection on the account and then the password protection on the pdf. The downside is that if they do manage to get into the email, it will be obvious that the pdf documents are important as they are the only files attached to the emails. On the memory stick, you can bury them in hundreds of other files, here you can't, but this might be a better method for you, especially if you are reading them on a phone or tablet.

3. Alternatively, for more convenience but a little less protection, copy the pdf files into a directory with other files somewhere on your harddrive. Just make sure you turn off the "Recent Files" function in Adobe's Acrobat reader, as that would take someone who opened Adobe right to them. But even if that happened, they still need to get through the pdf's password protection.
Whatever method you choose, I recommend turning off Adobe Acrobat Reader's "Recent Files" function. This will prevent Adobe from telling people what files you've been opening. This way, they don't even know you've been looking at pdf files. Do that here (click to enlarge images):

(3) How will you get these books to me/How do I buy them?

Ok. Now you know how to hide them. So how do I get these to you? What is the process?
STEP ONE: You send me an email telling me which books you want. Send your email to: I don't need your name or address or any details about you. All I need is the email address and the list of books. That said, please put something like “Ann Michelle Books” in the header so I know it’s not spam.

STEP TWO: I will send a Paypal invoice to your email.

STEP THREE: You pay the invoice.

STEP FOUR: When payment is made, I will send you another email with the book(s) attached. I will also send you a second email with the password, so you can delete that email without deleting the book email. This is so you don't need to keep the password with the books. The password will be very simple to remember.
That's it! Simple. So let's look at these steps so you understand how your anonymity will be protected at each turn.

(4) Won't you know who I am from my email?

Nope. Set up an email account using a fake name at some place like Hotmail or Gmail or Yahoo and use that email to communicate with me. I will only know you by the name you choose for that email. Doing this also lets you hide the email from your spouse/kids/roommate/etc. Just make sure that you (1) sign out every time you are done with the email and (2) don't let it remember your password. You could also take the further step of deleting all the emails as you finish with them. That way, if someone got into your email account there would be nothing there to see.

(5) Why Paypal?

As I said, to pay, I will send you an invoice from Paypal. Why use Paypal? In a word, ANONYMITY.
Part One: Anonymous To Me

When you get the invoice, you can either pay it from a Paypal account or you can pay it with a credit card. You can use a store-bought pre-paid Mastercard/Visa Gift Card to do this, so I would recommend going that route. Whichever you choose is up to you. Either way, I will never know how you paid because Paypal doesn't share that information with me. Nor does it tell me your real name. I will only see your Paypal screen name/email.

There is a catch though. To activate the Mastercard/Visa Gift Card, you need to give a name and address. You then need to give the same name and address to Paypal. Some people say you can use a fake name and address so long as they are the same, but I can't say that for certain and I don't recommend that. The thing is, like I said, no matter what name you use, Paypal will not share that information with me. I will only see your Paypal screen name/email.

What I recommend is this. Go set up a Paypal account with a store-bought credit card right now. Try it out. Use Paypal to buy something that isn't embarrassing and see what happens. Go buy a $0.99 App through your new email and use Paypal to pay for it, for example. You will see that your real name doesn't come up. Once you have money in your Paypal account, you become just a screen name. When you are comfortable with that, then you are ready to buy my books!

Part Two: Anonymous To Your Family

The other reason to use Paypal is that you can do this without ever creating a financial trail for your family to stumble upon. You buy the pre-paid Mastercard/Visa Gift Card with cash. Then you use that card to handle the transaction. No record of this transaction ever appears on a credit card or bank statement shared with your family. Paypal will produce a statement, but it goes to your fake-name email, not your house. When you need more money, just get another card with cash.
That's why I chose Paypal. While you do have to give your name to Paypal and Mastercard/Visa to set up and fund the account initially, that's the end of anyone knowing who you are. After that, you use a screen name. I will never find out your real name or address. No statements will be mailed to your house. Nothing appears on your normal credit card statement. That is about as anonymous as you can get using money online these days. I will keep looking for other methods, but this one should be quite safe.

A couple final points: Again, please do not let your computer enter your Paypal password automatically. Also, some people say to avoid the re-loadable Visa/Mastercard Gift Cards because they ask for more information. Finally, Paypal does work with lots of different currencies.

(6) Where do I find a list of your books and what are the prices?

All my books are a flat $5 unless otherwise noted. So two books is $10, four books is $20, and so on. My list of available books is HERE.

(7) Can I email you for help or to discuss something?

Sure. I'll do what I can to help!

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