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Plagiarism, Indie Authors, Libraries
Plagiarism stinks. No two ways about it.
The question is, what to do when you see it?
That was the issue presented to readers of some indie authors recently; they saw that one author had plagiarized others, and saw that the author had been mentioned on a blog post.
So, what to do?
They went after the blogger, in a series of comments.
The blog is Me, My Shelf and I. I follow the blog on Twitter & read the blog. One meme they have that I particularly like is “My Indie Monday,” which highlights an indie author each Monday. See, I don’t read a lot of indie authors and books. I don’t have the time; right now, I don’t have the desire. Instead, I rely on other reviewers and bloggers and when I see them mention something that is good, I’ll look at it. (And to be honest: I’ve read only a small, small handful of such indie authors, but these blogs and memes help me to be aware of what is out there.)
Given the scarcity of reviews and mentions of most indie authors, and the need for such reviews for libraries, one thing I’m very pro is librarians reading and following blogs like Me, My Shelf and I to be fully informed about indie authors and books. Why? So that purchasing of such books is made in an informed manner. In other words, yes, the reviews are out there.
Long story short — and I urge you to read the “long story” over at Me, My Shelf and I — an indie author was highlighted in My Indie Monday. In comments, an allegation of plagiarism was made. People in the comments said the post should be taken down. Once Me, My Shelf and I had the opportunity to look into the matter further, she did indeed take the post down, replacing the original post with an explanation of what had happened and leaving up all the original comments to the original post as well as now having comments to the replacement posts. (I love transparency!)
My concerns, based on what I saw at the blog and on Twitter:
Please, people, bloggers are people. Just like you. We don’t live online 24/7. We have jobs, families, friends, lives that happen outside the blog. We sleep. A blogger cannot instantly respond to and react to comments. It’s just impossible, and it’s unrealistic and demanding to expect it.
Plagiarism requires proof. It’s not enough to say it happened. It’s also not enough to point to the works plagiarized. Look at how Dear Author has approached blogging about plagiarism; she uses exact, specific instances, comparing pages and passages. It’s not fair, to say to a blogger, hey, read and compare these different works. And do so in the next hour.
Yes, plagiarism happens with traditional publishing. But in recent high profile cases, I cannot think of the authors or readers involved going after the reviewers or mainstream media that reported on the book. Concerns and criticisms are directed to the author and their publisher. Not to readers, reporters, or bloggers.
Librarians need to be aware of what happens with indie authors and books, if they are going to start collecting their work or getting involved in the publishing process. Note, I’m not saying not to do it — just be aware so that the right policies and procedures are crafted.
As I mentioned above, part of that is using resources like Me, My Shelf and I to discover books.
Part of it is seeing what has happened here and figuring out, “ok, what if this was about a book the library purchased for it’s collection? What would our response look like? What if these comments were being left at the library website? What do we do about the comments and the book?”
And part of it is saying, if we’re going to become community publishing portals, what will do when allegations of plagiarism arise?
So, do you know of any existing library policies that address these types of collection development issues?
What does your library do when plagiarism allegations are made about books in the collection?
What blogs and review sources do you go to for discovering indie author and books?
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About Elizabeth Burns
Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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