The Bottom Of The Barrel: The 10 Worst-Ranked Books On Amazon

With 42 million books to choose from on Amazon.com and only so many hours in the day, I need help picking out the right ones. No matter how good a book is, some idiot reviewers are bound to drag the score down (showcased in The Top 10 Best Books... With The Worst Amazon Customer Reviews) and the author's loved ones will undoubtedly get paid off to compliment the book, but overall, Amazon reviews still give a fairly accurate assessment of a book's quality.

Because when it comes to low scores, at a certain point, you can’t attribute them to internet bullies and biased critics—there has to be something fundamentally wrong with the book. To achieve a score lower than three stars, the author must commit some kind of literary crime to warrant the derision of the masses. So whether it’s racism, first-amendment infringements, or laughably bad grammar and plot inconsistencies, here’s a look at the best of the worst—and the lessons we can learn from each of them to help make our own work better.

(Before anyone accuses me of drinkin' Haterade, I realize that these authors have made more money selling books than I ever will, ever. So really, the joke is on me.)

10. “Midnight Sins” by Lora Leigh (2.2 stars)

The Plot: Dreamboat ranch-owner Rafer Callahan is trying to hump Cami—but he might have accidentally killed her sister, and chicks really hate that. Then people start dying, and things get confusing.

The Problem: Miss Leigh confuses ages, details, names, and relationships of the characters so badly that the story becomes incomprehensible—I even got confused trying to piece together the plot description on the Amazon page. One reviewer found 78 errors—which means you'll run into something that doesn't make sense every five pages.

The Lesson: For the love of God, proofread your story.

Buy Midnight Sins (The Callahans) from Amazon.com

 

9. “Does God Love Michael’s Two Daddies?” by Sheila K. Butt (2.2 stars)

The Plot: Miss Butt gets around to answering the question posed in her title: God kinda loves them, but God would love them a whole lot more if they stopped sodomizing each other.

The Problem: Biblical cherry-picking just pisses me off. Avoiding the obvious valid argument that human love and compassion are infinitely more important than following dogma, if you're pulling the "Bible sez so" card, you need to follow all of the Bible's proscriptions: not wearing mixed fibers, stoning adulterers, killing magicians, not wearing gold, not eating shellfish, not getting tattoos, not trimming your beard, not pulling out, not getting divorced, and plenty of other goofy shit. If you're gonna let a 2,000-year-old work of fiction justify your hatred of gay people, you need to follow all of its crazy-ass rules.

 The Lesson: To quote Morgan Freeman: “I hate the word homophobia. It’s not a phobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole.”

Buy Does God Love Michael's Two Daddies (Seth and Sarah Ask...) from Amazon.com

 

8. “Wild Animus: A Novel” by Rich Shapero (2 stars)

The Plot: Drug dealer Sam Altman graduates college in the '60s, moves to Alaska, and transforms into a ram.

The Problem: This one has a special place in my heart, as boxes of this book were distributed to every dorm at my college. Every tiny bookshelf on campus housed a copy, its owner ready to delve into the relatively difficult literature in an attempt to seem cultured. Nobody made it past page three.

The Lesson: Don't litter. Before you kill hundreds of trees, make sure your story is worth it.

Buy Wild Animus: A Novel from Amazon.com

 

7. “You’ve Been Warned” by James Patterson (1.9 stars)

The Plot: Photographer Kristin Burns gets a cushy job babysitting two rich brats, but that fact that she's humping their dad complicates things.

The Problem: Ol’ Jamey Patterson was phoning this one in. As an author who's sold more than 220 million books (grossing more than $3 billion!), he made more on this turd than 10,000 self-pubbed writers could make in 10,000 years.

The Lesson: The ability to fart out a novel and make wheelbarrows of cash doesn't justify doing it.

Buy You've Been Warned from Amazon.com

 

6. “Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls Part One” by Victoria Foyt (1.8 stars)

The Plot: This dystopian novel is set in the future, where white-skinned Eden (a Pearl) needs to mate with someone dark-skinned (a Coal) or they'll throw her out of the colony where she'll die from exposure to the sun.

The Problem: Nearly every negative review accuses her of racism, which, we can all agree, is bad no matter what. Does she deserve it? You'll have to read my upcoming column "Is It Racist?" analyzing her novel to find out (unless you just want to read the book yourself). I'm all for hating books, but only if you hate them for the right reasons.

The Lesson: If you're going to address racism in any way, you'd better be careful.

Buy Revealing Eden (Save the Pearls Part One) from Amazon.com

 

5. “The Shadow God” by Aaron Rayburn (1.7 stars)

The Plot: Craig Johnson walks into his closet and meets the Shadow God—who wants to kill him. Since Craig doesn't want to die, conflict ensues.

The Problem: It's hard to nail down exactly what's wrong with this one. Other than boring action and a clunky plot, a major sticking point is the dialogue: "Of all the things to think, he never thought he'd think that," and: "Already, he knew he wouldn't be able to do it. In fact, he KNEW he wouldn't."

The Lesson: If you're going to spend 454 pages creating a metaphor for Cain and Abel, don't let the plot hinge on something called "The Satanist Group Association."

Buy The Shadow God from Amazon.com

 

4. “The No Cussing Club” by McKay Hatch (1.4 stars)

The Plot: Proudly billing himself as “The Most Cyberbullied Kid In The World,” McKay Hatch started the "No Cussing Club" which—you guessed it—advocates not cussing.

The Problem: Look at the cover. Really. Just look at his smug little leer. Christ. Even as king of the nerds in my more formative years, I still would have beaten this kid's ass. No cussing? Are you fucking kidding me? Telling bullies what to do is only going to piss them off. Middle school (and high school) sucks no matter what, so just follow the lead of millions of kids before you: keep your head down, graduate, and move away. 

The Lesson: Grow a pair.

Buy The No Cussing Club from Amazon.com

 

3. “In The Breath Of A Moment: A Collection Of Short Tales” by Andrew Kieniksman (1.3 stars)

The Plot: Several things happen throughout 29 different short stories.

The Problem: You can't string a bunch of thematically unrelated stories together and call it a book.

The Lesson: Just because you can publish a collection of short stories doesn't mean you should.

Buy In The Breath Of A Moment: A Collection Of Short Tales from Amazon.com

 

2. “How Fatima Started Islam: Mohammad’s Daughter Tells All” by Noor Barack (1.1 stars)

The Plot: Turns out, Mohammad didn't start Islam because he was too busy being drunk and stupid. His daughter Fatima did all the work.

The Problem: Remember the shit-storm caused by cartoons of Mohammad printed in a Danish newspaper some years back? Very few people of the Islamic faith take their religion lightly—so writing a book that calls Mohammad “the village idiot and town drunk“ and labels him a “drunken, imbecilic pimp” isn’t going to make you many friends. Even though the novel is categorized as satire and the author makes note of this several times throughout the introduction, it seems like more than a few people didn’t get it. 

The Lesson: I’m all for freedom of speech, but not hate speech. Don't pick fights with someone's God in the name of "humor."

Buy How Fatima Started Islam: Mohammad's Daughter Tells It All from Amazon.com

 

1. “ANTIGUA: The Land of Fairies, Wizards and Heroes” by Denise Ellis (1 star)

The Plot: Voltar the Dragon wants to eat everyone, and King Artor wants to prevent that. Also, fairies and wizards and heroes and stuff.

The Problem: Oh boy... where to start. First off, the author’s period key was replaced with an exclamation mark for most sentences. Secondly, very little in this book makes sense. The list of errors goes on, and Antigua comes in dead last with nine 1-star reviews.

The Lesson: Dragons are immune to "lightening bolts." And unless your characters are screaming their dialogue, cool it with the exclamation marks. Like Fitzgerald said, "An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke."

BONUS! The genuinely worst book with the best review

“Moon People” by Dale M. Courtney (4.3 stars)

The Plot: "The story focuses on one Man by the Name of David Braymer and his adventures from High school teacher to 1st Science Officer on board the Lunar Base 1 Mobile Base Station and his encounters with Alien Life forms throughout our universe and the space Battle of all battles David experiences."

The Problem: Despite being nearly unreadable, this novel has an amazing score. No, the literature-reviewing world hasn’t been poisoned by the clunky, mindless prose of Fifty Shades—every single five-star review (all 81 of them) is dripping with sarcasm. Either Courtney has a crack marketing team, or the Amazon gods have deemed this novel another of their sarcastic punching bags (check out “fresh whole rabbit” and “How To Avoid Huge Ships” for other great examples). But as a bonus for all you Courtney fans out there, you’ll be happy to know that Moon People is the first in a trilogy.

The Lesson: I'm not really sure... 

Buy Moon People from Amazon.com

 

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Comments

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK September 14, 2012 - 11:58am

I’m all for freedom of speech, but not hate speech. Don't pick fights with someone's God in the name of "humor."

I love how you criticise an author attacking Islam right after you do the same to Christianity. I don't believe in either, but I think everyone has the right to believe what they want and nobody has any right to tell them their beliefs are wrong.

If you're gonna let a 2,000-year-old work of fiction justify your hatred of gay people, you need to follow all of its crazy-ass rules.

Maybe Christianity is an easy target for you, but in the interest of fairness you should also say the same for Islam. Just an observation.

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing September 14, 2012 - 12:20pm

This is great stuff! I love it! I was not aware that the Bible advises us to kill magicians. I would not support that, except perhaps for David Copperfield, who might deserve to have his head chopped off not for being a magician, come to think of it, but for ripping off a great Dickens title as his supposed name. That may come under the heading of covetting thy neighbor's bestselling title.

--Ed

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing September 14, 2012 - 12:21pm

Point of information: "Christianity" is not what he's attacking; bigotry and selective interpretation of Scripture is.

--Ed

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK September 14, 2012 - 12:23pm

Ed, I'll shorten the quote for you:

2,000-year-old work of fiction

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing September 14, 2012 - 12:29pm

Point taken. Still, the proscriptions he cites are found mostly in the Old Testament, an even older work -- of fiction.

--Ed

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing September 14, 2012 - 12:30pm

PS: Happy Rosh Hashanah to all!

Sancho LeStache's picture
Sancho LeStache from El Paso is reading Hunger September 14, 2012 - 12:36pm

I thought the same thing as Seb for sure.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK September 14, 2012 - 12:43pm

I agree the Bible is to a degree a work of fiction, as is the Koran (although there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth than Napolion Bonaparte, but not so much going for the resurrection) but that is my belief. You cannot prove or disprove God exists. That being said, it doesn't matter your opinion. If you criticise one you should criticise all. By condemning an author satirising Islam but freely denouncing the Bible as fiction you must be either scared of Islam (which is really rather racist) or a complete hypocrite. Either way I'm not impressed.

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing September 14, 2012 - 12:53pm

Calling the Bible a work of fiction is not necessarily a denunciation. Many theologians would agree with me on that. One does not have to believe in the literal truth of Biblical stories to believe in God. Who, for example, did Cain marry? Genesis 4 is most vague on the matter. It seems there was a whole other Creation scene going on in the next county. Or something.

--Ed

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK September 14, 2012 - 1:02pm

I think you've missed the point Ed. Also, just so you know, Cain married his sister. Incest wasn't outlawed until Moses, before the laws it was both acceptable and necessary. Think about Noah. Adam and Eve had more than two children, Cain and Abel were their eldest sons.

Renee Quattromani's picture
Renee Quattromani September 14, 2012 - 2:55pm

in one of Lora Leigh's books she describes the scent a manthe woman was going down on as "smelling like cinnamon and mountain air." Two words that should never go together, much less to describe that.

And yet, she makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Renee Quattromani's picture
Renee Quattromani September 14, 2012 - 2:55pm

in one of Lora Leigh's books she describes the scent a manthe woman was going down on as "smelling like cinnamon and mountain air." Two words that should never go together, much less to describe that.

And yet, she makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing September 15, 2012 - 8:23am

No, Cain did not marry his sister. And I quoth:

"16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch...."

There is nothing about Cain dragging his sister along with him. He went to Nod, and knew a Noddian woman, and she conceived and "bare" (I'd have written "bore") Enoch.

The Noddians were apparently created in the first round, the trial round, before God got it right. It took two tries.

--Ed

Ben Villeneuve's picture
Ben Villeneuve from Maine is reading Gardens of the Moon September 15, 2012 - 8:27am

I feel like it's really, really important to point out that Morgan Freeman never said that. That quote is from a fake Twitter impersonation account. If you want to be perfectly accurate, you would attribute that quote to Morgon Freeman, or to the Daily Truth Jokes facebook page which is where it actually appears to have come from.

I'm so sick of seeing misattributed quotes all over the place in the age of the Internet, and I'm especially sick of people who should know better just not checking for a source. I mean, I'm sure Morgan Freeman doesn't disagree with the sentiment of the quote, but they are not his words and they shouldn't be portrayed as such.

Between that and the bizarre religious doublespeak, there's a lot of puzzling stuff in this column.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK September 15, 2012 - 8:45am

Seriously Ed? Adam was over 800 years old and had hundreds of children. Check your facts, and read this: http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp15.htm

Ben, I completely agree. This article is inconsistent and crap, and brings down the usual high standard of Litreactor. I for one am disappointed.

Dave Reuss's picture
Dave Reuss from Bozeman is reading Now is the Hour September 16, 2012 - 10:58pm

Oh, there's nothing quite like religion to really get people pissed off.

I'd like to point out that I'm completely consistent throughout my work: I'm consistently arguing for the other side.

Love Jesus and think gays shouldn't marry? Well, I think human love and compassion are beautiful regardless of sex.

Hate Islam and think its founder is a drunken imbecile? Well, I think that's disrespectful to millions and a religion with that many followers should garner an inherent reverence.

Hate cussing? Well, I love cussing.

It the topics of the books were all flipped 180 degrees, maybe I'd argue against gays, Islam, and cussing. I dunno. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large—I contain multitudes.

In any intelligent discussion, both parties should consider should the viewpoint of the other group—but bear in mind that definitely doesn't mean you have to believe it or endorse it.

If someone hates gays, there's not a chance I'll change their mind... but there's something I can learn by having a discussion from them. Ol' Hamlet had it right: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK September 17, 2012 - 2:31am

I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not fired up about religion. I just didn't like your article. To miss-quote you slightly:

Love Jesus and think gays shouldn't marry? Well, I think that's disrespectful to millions.

Hate Islam and think its founder is a drunken imbecile? Well, I think human love and compassion are beautiful regardless of dogma.

Basically you took a cheap shot at Christianity, then defended Islam. I don't believe in either, and I would say all religion is bad when organised on a large scale. It's time has passed, God is dead. I agree that Christians being against gay marriage is pathetic and ridiculous. Islam looks at that more extremely than Christianity. What will fundamental Christians do? Protest? Whereas in some parts of the world people are put to death for homosexuality.

I do agree that you should be respectful of people's beliefs. However, what if I say millions of people across the world believe whites are superior to blacks? Should that be respected, just because people believe it? What about the millions who believe women are second class citizens, property to be bought and sold?

Whatever your moral stance, all of these can and should be questioned, and anyone is well within their rights to satirise anything. If people get offended, tell you your beliefs are wrong, they are no better. Insult Islam and you may face serious repurcussions, doesn't that put the religion in the wrong? Or the fanatics?

I think you should think more before writing something like this. There is no need to tread on eggshells over one religion then spit in the face of another, this is either cowardace or hypocrisy. And arguing for the other side should maybe be pointed out in the article, to avoid confusion. What if a Christian read this and took offence?

You laugh this all off with your arrogant post, no respect for anyone else, climbing on your high horse like you hold a monopoly on intelligent discussion. Whatever happened to tolerance, and why has it been replaced with arrogance?

Suzie Howson's picture
Suzie Howson from Ramsgate Kent is reading Cloud Atlas September 17, 2012 - 3:01am

Ok, this whole conversation has left me hugely frustrated and shouting at my computer screen. The original comment, made by Seb, had nothing to do with personal beliefs, his own, the authors or anyone else's. He was making a valid point about the article itself and some glaring inconsistencies in the way the 'criticism' of each book was handled. Both of these books have been written as works of fiction, if either the author of the article or any reader of either book is offended by the content they should re-learn the definition of 'fiction'. If authors of works of fiction edited their novels so as not to offend anyone, whether on the grounds of religion or anything else, then our literary world would be so much the poorer and many of the novels that are today heralded as masterpieces and pivotal texts would not be in existence. Furthermore, if you are going to critic a series of texts, at least apply the same standards and methods to each otherwise you leave yourself open, and quite rightly so, to the derision of others.

Chris Davis's picture
Chris Davis from Indiana is reading A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews September 18, 2012 - 3:41am

As a Christian I can say I find nothing offensive about the author's views on my faith.

My problem with this article is that on a website that usually encourages intelligent debate over topics that have to do with writing, you felt this was appropriate.  I recommend this site to people because I feel that it holds the quality of its articles and forums to a higher standard in terms of both research of what it's reporting and respect to other users.  If any of those people checked out the site for the first time and saw this, you made me out to be a liar.  This reads like you just saw a Top 10 list, read a synopsis and wrote something inflammatory because it was fun.  That's not journalism, that's a troll. This website states that its goal is to "Connect-Learn-Improve-Publish". Tell me how as an employee of this website you helped do any of those things by writing this.

These are the things you said in your response that I felt were just wrong. Seb raised a legitimate point with his post.  And your response was. "Oh, there's nothing quite like religion to really get people pissed off." He seemed to be more upset about the quality of your work, not your views on faith.

"I'd like to point out that I'm completely consistent throughout my work:" - If you are the only one saying this about your own work, you're wrong.

"I'm consistently arguing for the other side." and "In any intelligent discussion, both parties should consider the viewpoint of the other group" - If all you are doing is arguing for the other side how can you possibly be considering the other groups view points. If you are the only one who thinks that you are having an intelligent conversation, you're not.  

"Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large—I contain multitudes." - Holy crap that's arrogant.  Personally, I think that arguing about everything with no thought about what you're saying just to hear the sound of your own voice is about as one dimensional as a person can get. 

Put all this on top of ending your response with a Shakespeare quote (Which surprisingly, wasn't attributed to Morgan Freeman) which embodies the exact opposite of everything you said and you could not have come across like more of a jerk if you tried. 


 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks September 17, 2012 - 10:26am

Dave wasn't attacking Christianity, he was attacking the ignorance of the author. But hey, she wrapped it up in the guise of religion, so he can't say anything about it if he also says that it's wrong to attack a religion.

That book is antithetical to the actual Christian religion. I get it -- homosexuality is listed as a sin in Leviticus, along with wearing clothes of two fibers. It's as if I wrote a book called "Let's Go Fuck a Dog" and hid behind Judaism, and no one was allowed to attack my book because they can't attack my religion.

EDIT: Seb, if you're telling people to check the facts, include them. Give me a citation for the belief that there's more proof of Jesus than Napoleon Bonaparte. Where's the proof that Islam is a "really rather racist" religion? Also, he can call the Bible fiction without saying the same about the Koran because there's literally no mention of the Koran in this article. You're up in arms because he "attacked your religion" and you're doing the same with Islam.

Suzie Howson's picture
Suzie Howson from Ramsgate Kent is reading Cloud Atlas September 17, 2012 - 10:24am

Chris Davis - very nicely put! 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK September 17, 2012 - 11:07am

Chris and Suzie - well said. Got the point across I was trying to make in a much more concise way, thanks.

Courtney, re-read all my previous comments please, as you have obviously not read them properly, or understood them. My responses to you are below.

Dave wasn't attacking Christianity, he was attacking the ignorance of the author. But hey, she wrapped it up in the guise of religion, so he can't say anything about it if he also says that it's wrong to attack a religion.

No, he said 2000 year old work of fiction. That's attacking Christianity.

That book is antithetical to the actual Christian religion. I get it -- homosexuality is listed as a sin in Leviticus, along with wearing clothes of two fibers. It's as if I wrote a book called "Let's Go Fuck a Dog" and hid behind Judaism, and no one was allowed to attack my book because they can't attack my religion.

Again, wrong. You've not got it. I have no problem with him attacking religion, my problem is that he needs to treat all the books with the same attitude, which he didn't.

EDIT: Seb, if you're telling people to check the facts, include them. Give me a citation for the belief that there's more proof of Jesus than Napoleon Bonaparte.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Christianity-Church-History-2348/actual-proof-Jesus-existed.htm

More are available at various other sources.

Where's the proof that Islam is a "really rather racist" religion?

I didn't say that. I said fearing repurcussions from Islam is really rather racist, as you're stereotyping an entire religion.

Also, he can call the Bible fiction without saying the same about the Koran because there's literally no mention of the Koran in this article.

There is mention of Islam, if that is to be respected then so is Christianity. If not then neither should be. You've missed the point again.

You're up in arms because he "attacked your religion" and you're doing the same with Islam.

No, I don't believe in either of them. Read my comments properly before commenting. If you're going to start an arguement make sure you actually argue the right points, because you just made yourself look foolish by not reading what I wrote previously.

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest September 17, 2012 - 11:35am

Ugh... This has quickly turned into a sad situation. Let it go. No one is going to win this debate. I'm a Christian. I was not offended. I found the article amusing. Leave it be. Please. 

Amy May Quinn's picture
Amy May Quinn May 30, 2014 - 5:43am

I love Moon People! It's a classic!

Dallas Takitimu's picture
Dallas Takitimu April 17, 2015 - 6:28am

"Don't pick fights with someone's God in the name of "humor."

Erm...Father Ted, Vicar of Dibley, Monty Python and the Holy Grail anyone?

Nice neutral reviewing here - no obvious anti-Christian/ pro-islam bias at all...

Pomy Collingwood's picture
Pomy Collingwood September 1, 2015 - 1:58am

Please add C G Cottam's The Waiting Room too. That is just a must-avoid at all cost. 

 

Plot: a haunted / derelict train waiting room in the garden of a wimp " rockstar" has ghosts bumming around and singing Roses of Picardy.

 

Problem: Mr Cottam thought that writing pieces in cheap mags & rags made him a book author overnight.

 

Lessons to learn: You can fuck up a simple haunted-house story by not being a writer...

shprtp's picture
shprtp December 17, 2015 - 11:03am

Hey,

check out the review section of BOOK "the Unquiet land " By barkha dutt on Amazon.in.

it has more than 1500 1 star reviews.

 

Jonathan Griffin's picture
Jonathan Griffin March 2, 2017 - 9:05pm

"I’m all for freedom of speech, but not hate speech. Don't pick fights with someone's God in the name of "humor."

I don't like disrespect for someone's faith either. Nor do I like hatred. However I also fear censorship. When you say that you are "all for freedom of speech, but not hate speech," you leave a doorway wide open to censor other books that people deem offensive and hateful, and start a chain reaction of banning books. I highly recommend, Mr. Reuss, that you read Ray Bradbury's great novel Fahrenheit 451, about a society that bans books so offense isn't caused. 

Aaron Berry's picture
Aaron Berry May 26, 2018 - 3:46pm

Jonathan, you're heart's in the right place, but Fahrenheit 451 wasn't about censorship. It was written because Ray Bradbury was scared about that evil invention known as the TV potentially wiping out all the books in the world.