Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Questions About Plagiarism

On Friday, I was working on a post about Jerry Seinfeld's wife being accused of plagiarism. I posted to the Dear Author website (under a thread titled "How To Fling About Legal Insults") at the same time Jane Litte of Dear Author posted this blog. When I saw Jane's post, I decided to save the Seinfeld story for a secondary post today instead of using it for my primary post Saturday morning.

Friday’s Wall Street Journal had a story about similarities between the cookbooks written by Seinfeld (released October 5) and by a relatively unknown author (released April 4).

Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook was titled Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food (HarperCollins). After Oprah invited Jessica to guest star on her show on October 8th, the book took off.

Then Running Press, an imprint owned by Perseus Books, contacted HarperCollins. The independent press was concerned about “similarities between Deceptively Delicious and RP’s The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals by Missy Chase Lapine, published almost exactly six months earlier.

Jessica Seinfeld strenuously denies any plagiarism, and it appears that HarperCollins is accepting her at her word. They plan to sell as many as 1.5 million copies of the book between now and Chrismas.

According to today’s Publishers Lunch, Perseus CEO David Steinberger says Missy Lapine “first raised concerns about the Seinfeld book this spring after seeing promotional materials for the book. Steinberger says they were struck by what seemed to be uncanny similarities…. One of the most obvious was that their cover had the same image, a drawing of what looks like a mom hiding carrots behind her back’.”

Steinberger also says after his publishing house contacted Harper by letter in May, they were told some changes would be made, including alterations to the cover. The carrots were moved to a cutting board in the final cover for Seinfeld’s book. The mom hiding the carrots behind her back was the rear cover of Lapine's book.

It will be interesting to see how this situation resolves itself.

Jane became interested in the story from reading an article in The New York Times while I'd been piqued by articles in The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Marketplace.

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