Talking Point: Anne Dolamore: November 2021

Each month we invite a Guild member to sound off about something they feel strongly about. This month, Anne Dolamore, Publisher, Grub Street Publishing.

We may never know the reason for Elizabeth Haigh’s plagiarism. Most likely, in my opinion, being up against the deadline for delivery of the book and deciding to use someone else’s material in the belief no one would notice.

But as a cookbook publisher I took exception to a number of throw-away, unsubstantiated statements made in the lengthy and at times misinformed article by James Hansen in Eater.com. One being, and I quote, ‘the complicity of publishers in that theft [of recipes] not being deemed a crime.’

What utter nonsense.

He also states that Bloomsbury’s silence ‘as leaving space to doubt the editorial process for other books on the publisher’s roster.’

How so?

I would remind everyone that author/publisher contracts contain a clause where the author warrants that their material is original and breaches no copyright. That is a legal undertaking. So it’s no wonder Bloomsbury are silent at present since I have no doubt some form of legal action will ensue. The publisher has had to withdraw all copies from sale after having invested tens of thousands of pounds in photography, design and print. As publishers we cannot be expected to police the authenticity and originality of an author’s work.

Should Bloomsbury have read every Singaporean cookbook on the market checking for content/recipe theft? Of course not.

And yet I have seen quite a few comments on social media likewise blaming publishers for this plagiarism. I am mystified. Why are we to blame?

An author has a responsibility and if they do use other works then they must without question always be acknowledged and attributed.

Of course plagiarism is a crime – cookbook publishers do not condone that any more than any other publisher in another genre would.