The Case of the Missing Manuscripts

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Just recently Game of Thrones, the very popular TV series, modeled after George R.R. Martin’s books, had the dubious distinction of being leaked in part.The first four episodes of the much anticipated fifth season were made available just before the season premiere. It happens rather often in television. Someone decides to leak a few episodes. But if you thought books weren’t attractive enough for such people, you are in for a shock. We have a history (and recent news) of manuscripts being leaked or stolen before publication! 50 Shades of Grey

This June, the fourth book in the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy got leaked. (It seems that this is going to be a trilogy with six parts.)
Just over a week before the release of the book, it was noticed at the manuscript had disappeared. Details are unclear, but it is thought to be a printed copy. There are worries that extracts from the book will be sold to unscrupulous news agencies.

Obviously, the book can also be pirated, but it will surely be cheaper and easier just to wait for a week, then buy an e-book and remove the DRM if the intention is piracy.

Twilight

Twilight, the inspiration for the 50 Shades of Grey series, also experienced an unplanned publication while Ms. Meyer was busy with the first draft of Midnight Sun — basically the same story in fading illumination again, but from the perspective of Edward Cullen, the vampire.At that time Stephenie Meyer felt that she could not continue with the book. Some considered nominating the leaker/thief for the Nobel prize of Prevented Literature.      

The Harry Potter Series

Mr. Potter has been at the receiving end of theft more than once. Back in 2003 an intrepid forklift driver stole some pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, while stacking boxes. He later tried to sell these for a mere £25,000. The British newspaper The Sun arranged for police intervention, probably realizing that if they published these stolen pages, they would be vilified by all the little Harry Potters out there. And messing with magicians is even more dangerous than potential law suits. Then in 2007,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book of the Harry Potter series, was leaked inits entirety, 759 pages, on to the Internet. Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows The publishers tried to stem the leak, but nothing can be removed from the Internet once it has appeared.

George R.R. Martin’s Leaked Letter

Spoiler Alert: Some folks at InstaScribe did not read the whole article because they still want to read and watch, and speculate for themselves! Someone got hold of a 1993 letter that Martin wrote. In this missive to his publishers, he outlined the idea for the book(s) and who will fall in love with whom, and who will die. Perhaps it would have been much easier to just say whom he planned to keep alive. 220px-GeorgeRRMartinCW98_wb Quoting from the above mentioned article, “The letter to Martin’s publisher leaked when Waterstones Books originally tweeted photos of the document, which were later deleted. But, a Tumblr user did fans a solid favor and re-posted the photos.” If you prefer to stay ignorant, don’t click here.

J.D. Salinger’s short stories

Mr. Salinger was a complicated man and we are in two minds as to whether his case fits our highly specific and scientific genre. As you might know, after the great success of A Catcher in the Rye, Salinger started to withdraw from public life. He hated the interference in his personal life that the fame of being recognized brought. (It would be interesting to know what he thought of the trend today where being recognized is what makes you famous. Think of the Big Brother shows, for example.) Catcher was published in 1951. In 1965 he published his last original work and tried to drop out of sight.   Then in 2013, four years after his death, three unpublished short stories were leaked. These stories were available in various research libraries but not to the public. It was, Salinger felt, his right to decide who may read what he wrote. In reaction to the publication, or leak-ation, it was said “Don’t get me wrong… I’m going to read them. It just gave me pause to consider what an old man wanted in his dying days and how the public doesn’t really care. Maybe Salinger was right about us all after all.”

Political leaks

No, we are not really talking about wikileaks as such. In February of 2011, “In Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years” a manuscript by Frank Bailey a former Palin confidant was leaked. The reason for the leak is unclear. Unlike in the case of Mr. Salinger, Bailey wanted to have his book published and it saw the light in May 2011. The leak, it seems, hastened the publishing of the book.

Conclusion

The stealing of manuscripts is not something new. It has been going on forever. One example would be from the sixteenth century. Back then without Google Maps, or other readily available information, maps of the new world were highly sought after. We will also find older examples of this if we continue digging. Like Zen Scribe says, “People don’t change; just their way of doing the same thing does.” Back in 2007, a whole host of TV shows had their premiere or season premiere episode leaked. The question was then asked if this was not done on purpose as part of an unconventional marketing attempt. It is also a valid question when it comes to leaked books. Seeing that the 50 Shades manuscript was in printed format, it does not look like an attempt to facilitate mass “leaking.” Coupled with the fact that the book is now in the news, just days before its release, it does make you wonder. Add to this mix that it is “exactly” what happened to Midnight Sun, the inspiration of 50 Shades…. Whether you agree or disagree with wikileaks, you can understand why they feel that the public has a right to know. After all they are the employers of government. But do we have the right to disrespect J.D. Salinger’s desire for privacy? Is leaking the private and confidential letter between Martin and his publishers really in public interest? Now, if someone would kindly leak my unwritten manuscript so that it can also become a best seller before it is even conceived…

One Comment

  1. Reblogged this on Booknomics and commented:

    When manuscripts leak…

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