Jul 17 2013
Wednesday News: Fraudster uses self publishing platform to sell plagiarised books; Penn student authors a rebuttal to the NYT; and some facts and musings on Rowling’s secret indentity
Amazon has taken down all the sale pages of one Mr. Wagner, but you have to wonder given the plagiarism of Tammara Webber, Jamie McGuire, Lorelei James, by individuals who are using the self publish system to grab a quick book, whether Amazon and others need to institute a system akin to TurnItin. Turn It In is an academic plagiarism software program that is used to compare texts with one another. Essentially it is designed to help professors catch cheating students. At one point Turn It In had said it was developing a commercial product (that was back in the days of the Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal).
It seems like Amazon could easily implement something like this, tweaking the algorithms to catch multiple instances of word for word copying (kind of like how we compared Master of the Universe fan fiction to the published version of 50 Shades). It would be good for the customer to prevent these cases of fraud. Amazon enjoys using self publishing as a tool of disintermediation but if readers become wary of buying self published books for fear of buying a fake book, that could reduce Kindle Direct Publishing’s effectiveness as a tool. J.P. Barnaby’s Blog
This idea that girls always have to be sacrificing one for the other seems odd and self defeating (the NYT article was written by a woman). As Pardes notes, it is possible to get good grades, have some hookups, and have serious relationships while in college. And that you can’t just categorize girls as sluts or prudes.
Taylor cherry-picks examples of women who are either having no-strings-attached sex or saving themselves until marriage, which reinforces the idea that women are either “sluts” or “prudes,” Samanthas or Charlottes, either having one-night-stands or waiting for a ring by spring. What about everyone else in between? Can’t we sexually experiment and date in college—and end up married to a great person later on? Cosmopolitan
1) Rowling wanted anonymity. I believe this to be true due to the fact that several editors actually turned down this manuscript. Kate Mills at Orion Publishing tweeted that she and other colleagues had turned down this book when it was submitted. Val McDermid wrote a positive blurb for it, unaware that the author was Rowling. It appears that Rowling did, indeed, want to be judged solely on the merits of the book and not her literary superstardom.
2) Rowling or someone lied in the biography. This is obviously true. The biography is a complete fabrication but for the “Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym.” Does this matter? Yes and no. Yes, because she could have easily crafted a biography that was true yet unrevealing without claiming authenticity that she does not have. No, because it helped her none at all and the truth would have sold more copies than any fake biography ever would, in her circumstance.
3) The publisher was in on the secret. According to the Independent, David Shelley, publisher at Little, Brown, knew but no one else in the house did. Of course, we have to take their word on it unlike the corroborating statements of impartial individuals in point 1. What I do wonder about is whether The Cuckoo Calling was turned down by everyone and Rowling then went to Shelley, whose group published A Casual Vacancy, with her manuscript. It seems pretty coincidental that Little Brown ended up being the publisher, particularly after she was turned down by others.
4) The truth was leaked by the publisher. This is hard to say. The Sunday Times reports that someone created a Twitter account, tweeted to the Times that Rowling was the author, and then shut down the account. Was that someone inside the publishing house? Probably. Was it due to the flagging sales? Maybe. When Rowling’s identity was revealed, whether it was now or two books from now, Galbraith would have been an instant sensation.
I’d submit the publisher would have sold even more books if Galbraith had two or three novels published because many who is scrambling to buy The Cuckoo Calling now would have likely bought the entire set.
5) The book was well reviewed. The book received a starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and the Library Journal. It had no one star reviews until it was revealed that Rowling was the author. In any event, its been interesting, no?