Book Talk: Beware of republishing
Although I try to use this space to introduce new authors or authors who are new to me, I can’t ignore publications by some of my long-time favorites. So, I regularly check for new titles by writers like Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell, Ken Follett, Janet Evanovich, and Nelson DeMille among others.
However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to tell when a new title is really a new work or when a book is actually written by the alleged author. Occasionally, I’ve been the victim of deception or sub-par work, the latter probably caused by a contractual obligation to produce something that will make it into print.
This is a more serious problem for long-time avid readers than for casual readers. For example, if we combined crime, mystery, thriller, and international intrigue into one category, I would not be exaggerating to say that I’ve read well over a thousand books in that genre. The problem with being a voracious reader is my inability to remember the titles of the books that I’ve read.
For example, toward the end of last year, I spotted a book by David Baldacci that was available through Amazon.com. It was (and still is) listed as “Deliver Us from Evil,” a 2021 copyright. I ordered it, and when it arrived at my doorstop, I put it on my TBR (To Be Read) book stack.
A couple of nights ago, I finished a book by C.M. Sutter, an author who is new to me and whose work I will review in an upcoming column. Then, I reached for the book that was on top of the TBR stack. It was the new Baldacci book. I read the opening paragraph and thought: I think he’s started a previous book the same way. By the time I finished reading the second page, I was convinced that I’d read the book before. But I also thought that I could not possibly have forgotten the title of a book that was just published.
When I flipped back to the copyright page, I found: Copyright 2010 by Columbus Rose, Ltd., Cover Copyright 2021 by Hachette Book Group, Inc. In other words, “Deliver Us from Evil” was an old book, wrapped in a new cover, and marketed as a 2021 copyright. This sort of republishing is not new, but I was surprised that the technique would be used on a book by one of the best writers of contemporary American fiction.
I don’t know if the deception is caused by the publisher, the author, or the distributor, but it’s simply not ethical. I’ve already criticized James Patterson for putting his name on literally dozens of books per decade, supposedly co-authored with some other writer. I refuse to buy any of them, but I have ordered “Run, Rose, Run” which is due out next month because it is supposedly written in collaboration with Dolly Parton. We’ll see.
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Jim Glynn may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.