Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This I do vow and this shall ever be;

Maxine Paetro, Marshall Karp, Howard Roughan, Peter de Jong, Mark Sullivan, David Ellis, and Michael Ledwidge.

If you guessed 'who are seven people who have never been in my kitchen,' you'd be correct.  But I also would have accepted seven people who have 'co-authored' books with James Patterson.  It's part of an alarming trend that is sweeping the book world.  Okay, maybe 'alarming' is a little harsh, but it does bother me.

I see this happening all over the place, but three of the past fifty years' most popular authors really come to mind.  Robert Ludlum died in 2001, but that hasn't stopped him and his associate, Eric Van Lustbader from releasing close to a dozen books since then.  From my understanding, Clive Cussler is all but retired, yet he 'with Dirk Cussler,' his son, have published four book in the past 12 years.  And the worst, James Patterson, has 'co-authored' 60 novels in the past twenty years. 60!

Now I understand writing books is a business, and these hard working people are just trying to make a few dollars, I have no problem with that.  But Ludlum is dead, so he isn't trying to make a few dollars, his estate is, or his publisher is, and Van Lustbader is just trying to capitalize on a popular author's name.  I guess that shouldn't bother me, but I picture people buying these Van Lustbader books as presents, 'oh I know he loves Robert Ludlum, and this one is brand new!'

Without a doubt, the worst offender is James Patterson.  I have read that 1 in 17 books sold in the United States involve James Patterson.  While this sound impressive, it is less so when you consider he's 'writing' 1 in 5 books in the United States.  The man has had a very successful run with his Alex Cross series, which released its 17th sequel last year and has two more scheduled to come out in the next year.  I can't imagine money is a problem for the man, so why would he feel the need to throw his name on every book that comes across his desk?

Admittedly, I was unlikely to ever pick up a James Patterson book to begin with, but I just find it cheapens his all career to see so many books with 'James Patterson' in bold letters at the top and 'with so and so' in much smaller font at the bottom.  We're not fooled into thinking that each of these books involved Patterson and this other loser sitting down, throwing ideas back and forth, and truly writing the book together.  Instead it involved the 'with' person writing the book, Patterson or his people giving it an okay, and it going to print.

Allow me to make this vow to you:  I will never read a book that is 'co-authored,' when one of the authors is either dead, retired, or couldn't possible have contributed to the book as he also happened to release 37 other books that week.  That is my vow to you.

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