For my grad school requirements, each semester we have to read and review four books. (I’ve posted many of them up here before.) So every once in a while, I can’t find one of the books I want on the Barnes & Noble NOOK book shop, and I have to wander my way into a store proper. I found myself in just this scenario the other day…and witnessed something that while I probably can explain it…I’m not sure the explanation is good enough to justify doing it.
An author by the name of Robert Galbraith just released a book by the title of The Silkworm, and B&N has a great big display of books right near the door to showcase this. I’m always interested to see what books the store chooses to highlight, so as I walked past, I glanced at the cover. On the cover of each book, there is a brightly colored round sticker near the right-center edge. I had to double back to look to see what it actually said.
“Written by J.K. Rowling.”
Now, I haven’t been living under a rock. I know that it was recently revealed that Galbraith is a pen name for Rowling, where she writes books that aren’t necessarily what she would connect with her Harry Potter-inspired brand. I know who Robert Galbraith is.
That does not give anyone the right to put those stickers there.
If she wanted J.K. Rowling to be the author, she would have put J.K. Rowling on the cover. Similarly, if I wanted my birth name to be on the covers of my books, I wouldn’t be writing as K Orion Fray. If I walked into a bookshop and saw “Written by [Birth Name]” all over one of my books, I’d be furious.
Now, granted. I’m sure that this is a marketing ploy, so that people looking at the book can say “oh, Rowling, I know her–I’ll buy the book then” and do such. I don’t care. To my memory (and correct me if I’m wrong), Rowling was furious when her use of the pseudonym came out. She wasn’t looking for this to be public. (Obviously, in my mind. Again–if she’d wanted to write as Rowling, her name would be on the cover.)
Why are we doing this? Who thought that this was a reasonable thing to do to someone? Is Rowling supporting this? (If so, why isn’t she just releasing openly as Rowling?) I genuinely do not understand the rationale here, beside a blatant grab for money. Whether that’s from the booksellers, from the agents, from the publisher, or (please don’t let it be true) from Rowling herself…I don’t know. I don’t think it’s right, I don’t think it’s reasonable, and I hate every minute of it. God help any other author working under a pen name. I hope you don’t get outed too.
What about you, readers? Do you think the stickers are reasonable? Let me know!