Kindle Fire, Plagiarism and Other Thoughts

by Amanda S. Green

Let me start with a quick apology.  This post is going to be a bit late going up because, sigh, I forgot. It may take another week for me to get used to being here on Tuesdays. Of course, it doesn’t help that, for the first time in a long while, I overslept. So, my apologies for being late and I hope this post isn’t too disjointed.

For those of you who follow the e-reader news, there’s been a lot of talk the past week or so.  Barnes & Noble has announced the new Nook Tablet, its answer to the Kindle Fire. Both come with price tags most of us only dreamed of when the Kindle first hit the streets not that long ago.  Neither are the iPad killer so many folks want, especially at what can only be described as discount prices. Will the Nook Tablet, combined with the other versions of the Nook, dethrone the Kindle in all its iterations? Absolutely not. But it will bring more business to BN, at least initially because there will be those who like the fact it has a larger memory and an expansion slot for an sd card. However, with the Kindle Fire shipping this week, Amazon is getting the leg up in the competition — assuming the Fire works as well as Kindle customers have come to expect.

Now, am I advocating one over the other? Absolutely not. Before you ask, the reason is twofold and simple. First, I haven’t been able to play with eitherr. tablet. So I don’t know how responsive they are, how well their browsers work, how well they stream video or play music. The specs look decent on both, but that doesn’t really mean a whole lot, not in the long run. Nor does the fact that BN’s focus during their announcement of the new tablet was more on dissing Amazon than on selling me on why I should buy their tablet. Oh, don’t let the inflated numbers of books available fool you either. BN is using the number of books for sale AND out of copyright books for their numbers where Amazon uses only those books currently under copyright.

My second reason for not recommending either tablet right now is one of caution. I’ve learned, often the hard way, not to buy the very first version of any tech. There are almost always bugs that are worked out in the months following release. So, I’ll wait — unless some kind soul out there decides that their random act of kindness would be to give me one of the tablets to review 😉

Not to be outdone, Kobo has announced a new reader of its own. Well, a new version of one of its reader, to be precise. It is adding the Kobo Touch with Offers to its lineup, breaking the $100 barrier. This matches the price for the Kindle Touch with Special Offers and the Nook (Simple) Touch.

In other publishing news, another author is trying to dig himself out of a very deep hole — and not doing a very good job of it — after it was discovered that he plagiarized a number of books. Last week, GalleyCat reported on Little Brown pulling Assassin of Secrets. This debut novel by Quentin Rowan, writing as Q. R. Martin, turned out to be plagiarized from a number of spy novels. What truly baffles me is his justification for what he did:

“Once the book was bought, I had to make major changes in quite a hurry, basically re-write the whole thing from scratch, and that’s when things really got out of hand for me. I just didn’t feel capable of writing the kinds of scenes and situations that were asked of me in the time allotted and rather than saying I couldn’t do it, or wasn’t capable, I started stealing again. I didn’t want to be seen as anything other than a writing machine, I guess. Some call it ‘people pleasing.’ Anyway, the more I did it, the deeper into denial I went, until it felt as if I had two brains at war with each other.”

Making matters worse, again this is my opinion, is what is reported in the GalleyCat article. Rowan is co-owner of a bookstore. You’d think he had at least some idea of the seriousness of what he was doing. Instead of manning up and saying he wasn’t capable of living up to his deadlines and asking for an extension, he stole. Yes, stole.  That is what plagiarism is. It’s time we all admitted it.

However, that doesn’t let the publisher off the hook either. This is not an isolated case. How many times over the last few years have we heard about publishers pulling books, often after publication, because they’ve suddenly learned the book wasn’t an “original work”? Publishers have cut their own throats so many times and in so many ways of late that I can’t count them any more. One way is by not doing their fact checks like they should. They no longer check material, at least not fiction, the way they used to in order to insure the book is original. They don’t edit and copy edit or proofread they way they used to. They rely on the authors and agents to all this. It’s a money saving measure, they say. Well, how much money does it cost them in the long run when they have to pull a book that has already gone through the print and e-book conversion process?

Is it any wonder legacy publishing is in the sad state it is?

7 comments

  1. Amazing, the spots people put themselves into. He sound like a kleptomanic, something not wired right.

    I’m tempted to try the nook tablet. After all, I need to get those books up on B&N too. So it’s, like, a business necessity, right?

    1. Pam, that’s the way I look at it. Then I think about what I’d really be using it for. Frankly, I’d rather invest in something a bit more expensive and be able to have the nook app, kindle app, etc on it than have to try to root a nook tablet or the kindle fire to be able to do the same thing. And, again, I don’t like buying first gen hardware. So that puts the nook tablet off the table as well.

  2. If you follow the links, Mr. Martin explains that he has been “writing” by plagiarism since his twenties. Apparently whenever he thought someone else might read it, he got worried, and stole other people’s work to make sure that it was good enough. So he had the desire to be published, but the fear that his work wasn’t up to snuff, and… he got away with it for a while. Which just set up the big bust. Sad part is that more and more students seem to think copy-and-paste isn’t really a problem, and detecting it, given the huge range of materials out there, can be tough. It’s a growing problem.

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