The Death of the Author, as a Business Model

Interesting story behind Harvard student-author Kaavya Viswanathan, the one whose hit novel turned out to be somewhat plagiarized… She was working for (or with?) a company called Alloy Entertainment, which does “book packaging” for the YA book world, handling authors and book concepts and working with publishing companies. It seems that Alloy’s postmodern-capitalist way of approaching the book business may have been part of why this plagiarized book was published and became a news item. Here is the story as told by Sheela Kolhatkar in the New York Observer, which I found in ArtsJournal. A quote from the article:

“To me, all that stuff is such a black box,” said one author who has worked with the company. “They have writers who don’t exist, and they have writers who don’t really write the stuff, and they have one series supposedly by one author that are by many. There’s no one-to-one alignment between anything that gets produced and the producer. There’s no literary accountability.”

2 comments on “The Death of the Author, as a Business Model

  1. Interesting story indeed. I bet a lot of people do not know a lot of those series are basically ghost written or mass produced. The practices I am sure are legal, but they don’t seem terribly ethical. Like the quote points out, there is no accountability.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  2. And yet, there would not be a “Look Homeward Angel,” at least not in a form resembling the one we’re familiar with, had it not been for Maxwell Perkins. Uncredited collaboration, assemblage, ghosting, extensive editing, and so on has always been a bigger part of the publishing enterprise than most people realize, I think. The real problem is not what you call the “postmodern-capitalist” approach, because frankly that approach is not so different from what has preceded it. The problem is that our culture has been sold hook, line & sinker on the Portrait of the Artist as Unfiltered, Unmediated, “Pure” Genius.

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