The Viswanathan Dilemma at Little, Brown, Publishers

By David Emblidge.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In spring 2006 a Harvard university student, Ms. Viswanathan, is caught plagiarizing in her already published young adult novel, causing consternation for the author, her agent, her ghost book doctor, her publisher and for booksellers. What should the publisher do? The case poses difficult problems in the areas of business ethics as applied to creative writing and publishing. Are there any excuses for plagiarism when the author claims she has a photographic memory that runs out of control? Can the editors be held responsible for not catching the rampant plagiarism in the manuscript? Are there any good options for the publisher who has invested substantial amounts of money in this budding author’s new career and has hopes for a film rights sale in the near future? Should bookstores continue to sell the book? Do consumers have any role in resolving these ethical dilemmas, or is the book buyer free to read anything, even if its content is contaminated by plagiarism?

Keywords: Writing, Publising, Ethics

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 532.763KB).

Dr. David Emblidge

Associate Professor, Writing, Literature and Publishing Dept., Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

David Emblidge is Associate Professor, Emerson College (Boston) in the graduate program in publishing. He is writing a narrative history of the American bookstore. Emblidge serves on the Advisory Committee of the International Conference on the Book and was the program organizer for that conference, at Emerson College, in October 2006. As acquisitions editor, he has worked for Harvard and Cambridge university presses. He founded the trade book company Berkshire House (eventually sold to WW Norton). He edited Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities (Carroll & Graf), The Appalachian Trail Reader (Oxford) and several series, including Audubon Guides to National Wildlife Refuges (St. Martins), The Watson-Guptill Guides to Artists’ Colonies, and Exploring the Appalachian Trail (Stackpole). He is also, currently, Consulting Acquisitions Editor at Globe Pequot Press. His last in-house publishing position was Editor-in-Chief at The Mountaineers Books (Seattle).


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