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Registered Members => Book Talk => Topic started by: Franzilla on February 08, 2013, 07:22 AM

Title: More cover controversy
Post by: Franzilla on February 08, 2013, 07:22 AM
I'm guessing everyone saw the new Sylvia Plath cover. I had no idea about the Anne of Green Gables furore, though!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/feb/08/anne-green-gables-blonde-red-hair

What were the people behind it thinking?! Also, I'm confused - how can someone self-publish AGG (using CreateSpace) or did I get that wrong?
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Artemesia on February 08, 2013, 08:27 AM
Also, I'm confused - how can someone self-publish AGG (using CreateSpace) or did I get that wrong?

If AGG was first published in 1908, does that make it public domain now? *does mental math*

But um, disgusted that someone would do this to Anne! I'm confused also how this is allowed to happen.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Joni on February 08, 2013, 08:50 AM
This has been all over the web and a number of reputable people (Harold U among them) have pointed out that it's in the public domain and someone just self-pubbed it - obviously trying to make $$. Anyone can do that. I think it's getting far more attention than it deserves.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Christine B. on February 08, 2013, 11:02 AM
This has been all over the web and a number of reputable people (Harold U among them) have pointed out that it's in the public domain and someone just self-pubbed it - obviously trying to make $$. Anyone can do that. I think it's getting far more attention than it deserves.

My first thought was, how horrible--who would try to exploit a classic like AGG and make money off it! But then my next thought was, wait -- commercial booksellers have been doing that for years. I guess this is really no different.

I bet a lot of people choose which version of a book they want to read based on price, or the cover, etc. But I think there are a lot of us who are savvy readers and pay attention to the publisher. I know that long before I started writing, when I'd buy a classic I'd pay attention to the imprint and try to determine, is this a high-quality, definitive edition? Or is this just something put together to make easy money on something that didn't demand royalty payments? I still believe that quality always wins in the end so I'll just put my faith that that continues to be true. And hey -- if someone publishes an excellent version of a classic (I don't know what would make it so excellent -- maybe it is without copyeditor errors, or includes valuable footnotes, etc.) and it becomes a financial success, then all the more power to them I suppose.

(Edited to add: And please know -- while I don't usually judge a book by its cover, and having no intention of reading this version of AGG I am not qualified to speak to its quality, but I am not grouping this version of AGG into my theoretical "high quality definitive version" scenario.)
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: C.K. on February 08, 2013, 12:02 PM
It struck me as a non-story too. Anyone can stick a photo of anything on public domain works. Now, if it was a traditional publisher trying to pull this off my reaction would be a little different.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Christine B. on February 08, 2013, 10:04 PM
Just when I was ready to forget about  this...

A literary friend posted it on Facebook. One of her friends responded with something along the lines of, With that cover, they were just hoping for cheap publicity for "the new edition."

"The new edition"? Oh no! Please tell me that was just a hasty word choice, and that the general public won't assume this is the "the new edition" of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES!
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: christripp on February 09, 2013, 03:17 AM
The cover, that looks like the old Jane Mansfield, pin up girl, calendar photo's (arm behind head, chest out, back arched) made me sick! I can't say it any more plain then that I guess.
I was shocked that someone could or would self publish the story. But, the text is in public domain. What is not in the public domain and is controlled by the family and PEI is the IMAGE of Anne (oh, but they skirted that issue and changed her to Daisy Duke didn't they)
I can guarantee there isn't a Canadian that would buy the book though. You don't mess with our hockey, our Tim Hortens and you NEVER mess with PEI's Anne:)
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: mrh on February 09, 2013, 08:41 AM
"The new edition"? Oh no! Please tell me that was just a hasty word choice, and that the general public won't assume this nonsense publication is the "the new edition" of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES!

This. This is what makes a story where there otherwise might not be one, I think. It's extremely misleading. Yes, it's public domain, and yes, there are imprints that republish classics. But those imprints are not trying to imply they are doing "new, updated editions." Someone is going to buy this thinking it's a modernization, similar to the updated Nancy Drew.

And making Anne anything other than red-haired is IMO brainless.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: 217mom on February 09, 2013, 10:53 AM
Didn’t know about it until I looked at this thread just now. I’m not so much outraged as thinking; this is in the same vein as so many cheaply produced (largely quickly made E-books) these days. You know the sort I mean, where the cover designer DID NOT READ THE BOOK and the cover is disconnected from the story.
Anne with an E was one of my favorite imaginary friends who accompanied my childhood, probably like many of you.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: MysteryRobin on February 09, 2013, 12:01 PM
This. This is what makes a story where there otherwise might not be one, I think. It's extremely misleading. Yes, it's public domain, and yes, there are imprints that republish classics. But those imprints are not trying to imply they are doing "new, updated editions." Someone is going to buy this thinking it's a modernization, similar to the updated Nancy Drew.

And making Anne anything other than red-haired is IMO brainless.
Yes - I had someone on my FB wall post and talk about the new edition, too. I had to explain it was self-published and in the public domain, and it wasn't the same as a publisher putting out a new edition, but people don't get it...
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: AuntyBooks on February 09, 2013, 12:03 PM
Because it is in public domain, it is just a matter of time before someone comes out with a 'spiced-up' version. Unfortunately.

:( eab
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Franzilla on February 09, 2013, 05:22 PM
Because it is in public domain, it is just a matter of time before someone comes out with a 'spiced-up' version. Unfortunately.

:( eab

Reading that made me shudder. Let's just rename it Anne of Raunchy Stables and be done with it.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Bobi Martin on February 09, 2013, 08:34 PM
Yikes. 50 shades of what should not happen to a timeless classic!
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Christine B. on February 09, 2013, 08:55 PM
Yikes. 50 shades of what should not happen to a timeless classic!

Touche'!
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: christripp on February 10, 2013, 02:03 AM
Just can't wait to see what the next "Author" does with "Little Woman". Now there is a book that just begs for a new cover, something along the lines of 4 girls lounging in a brothel setting. Oh  :gaah!!!
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Laura D on February 10, 2013, 05:54 AM
Because it is in public domain, it is just a matter of time before someone comes out with a 'spiced-up' version. Unfortunately.

:( eab

I can see it now: Marilla runs a brothel and pimps out the girls of PEI. Oh, Josie, your next client is here.

Oy.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: literaticat on February 10, 2013, 06:32 AM
I can see it now: Marilla runs a brothel and pimps out the girls of PEI. Oh, Josie, your next client is here.

Oy.

Well... those Pye girls never were nice.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: HaroldU on February 10, 2013, 03:07 PM
You guys are joking about it, but remembe the Jane Austen/zombies "mash-up"?

Can the [insert classic's name here/porn mash-up be far behind?
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Danyelle on February 10, 2013, 03:26 PM
You guys are joking about it, but remembe the Jane Austen/zombies "mash-up"?

Can the [insert classic's name here/porn mash-up be far behind?

That's exactly what I've been thinking about. :(

The cover's awful, but yeah. Messing with the actual text and inserting sex/gore/violence/general icky stuff is, to my mind, much worse than a tasteless cover. And that's something that both trade and self-publishers are guilty of doing. It just feels . . . slimy to me to change a person's story--likely in a way they wouldn't like--and profit off of it.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: HaroldU on February 10, 2013, 05:57 PM
"It just feels . . . slimy to me to change a person's story--likely in a way they wouldn't like--and profit off of it."

I agree, but unfortunately that's a core assumption of copyright law: that after a certain amount of time (which in the US is much longer than it used to be) someone's work belongs to the public, and not to them.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Danyelle on February 10, 2013, 06:06 PM

I agree, but unfortunately that's a core assumption of copyright law: that after a certain amount of time (which in the US is much longer than it used to be) someone's work belongs to the public, and not to them.

Yes. :D On one hand, it's a good thing. There are so many wonderful stories that might have been lost otherwise. On the other hand . . . Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. :(
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Marissa Doyle on February 10, 2013, 07:09 PM
You don't want to know what they've done to Jane Eyre...
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: AuntyBooks on February 10, 2013, 08:33 PM
That's exactly what I've been thinking about. :(

The cover's awful, but yeah. Messing with the actual text and inserting sex/gore/violence/general icky stuff is, to my mind, much worse than a tasteless cover. And that's something that both trade and self-publishers are guilty of doing. It just feels . . . slimy to me to change a person's story--likely in a way they wouldn't like--and profit off of it.

I agree. But....Tolkien would have HATED the movies made from his books, and I kind of liked them.

:) eab
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Danyelle on February 10, 2013, 09:45 PM
I agree. But....Tolkien would have HATED the movies made from his books, and I kind of liked them.

:) eab

True. But they didn't radically alter the movies from the books. While they did change some things, I think it was to fit with telling the story visually, and it seemed like they tried to stay true to the spirit of the novels. :D
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: AuntyBooks on February 11, 2013, 07:14 AM
True. But they didn't radically alter the movies from the books. While they did change some things, I think it was to fit with telling the story visually, and it seemed like they tried to stay true to the spirit of the novels. :D

I just re-read the LOTR and was surprised at how much they really had changed. Shifting male characters (with huge long histories) into female I had of course caught, but there was more. It wasn't just visual. They added scenes between Sam and Gollum, for instance. But...I still liked the movies. They kept a great deal that was good, and there was a great deal of good to work with.

:) eab
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Danyelle on February 11, 2013, 12:35 PM
I just re-read the LOTR and was surprised at how much they really had changed. Shifting male characters (with huge long histories) into female I had of course caught, but there was more. It wasn't just visual. They added scenes between Sam and Gollum, for instance. But...I still liked the movies. They kept a great deal that was good, and there was a great deal of good to work with.

:) eab


Movie adaptations are rarely completely faithful to the original text. So, to me, this is apples and grapefruit. :D The better movies at least keep the spirit and themes of the books. For instance, Coraline. The movie adds a character (am re-reading Coraline right now, and haven't stumbled across Wybee (sp?) yet), changes some things (the dolls, the marbles, etc.), but stays true to the story (as opposed to the words) in the atmosphere and the themes. I still prefer the book to the movie, but that's usually the case. Howl's Moving Castle is another that deviated wildly from the actual book in places (I will *never* be used to Michael as a child), but remained true to the story, as opposed to the actual words.

So, for me, The Lord of the Rings movies are a completely different thing from The Lord of the Rings and Vampires. *shudders*
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Christine B. on February 11, 2013, 02:27 PM
Very interesting conversation; it's a new world out there.

But getting back to ANNE OF GREEN GABLES -- I was under the impression that this self-published version did not change the story at all, that it is word-for-word AGG, just with this weird, stock-art cover. I thought the angle was that this printing was cheaper than other versions of AGG available online, and that the person who offered it just thought, "You can buy AGG for $10, but I can self-publish it and offer it for $5." Am I wrong? Apparently it is no longer for sale so I don't know the exact pricing etc.

I've gotta say -- even though that's not very different than what I was talking about earlier, with imprints like Barnes & Noble publishing its own line of classics at a lower price than the versions offered by other publishing houses, the idea of a self-publisher doing this for money really rubs me the wrong way. I'd rather see a Canadian university, for example, printing the entire text on its website for free than to see some opportunist take advantage of the fact that many readers don't know public domain laws and won't understand how this version is different than one being sold by a major publishing house with an editorial staff. Somehow it feels like it's taking advantage of readers most of all.

In a way, I have more respect for someone who takes a classic story and changes it. That requires work and creativity. Sure, we've all read/seen versions of our favorites that we think are so bad they make us sick. But there are other examples that work really well and become beloved homages to the original work. In other words, I'd judge a re-envisioning of a classic according to its merits just like I would a fully original version. Whereas checking out AGG from the library, typing it up, and selling it online feels so sneaky to me. I don't know why; in the long run it will probably be my attitude that must change because I bet this won't be the last time we see this happe.

I'll just have to put my faith in what I said before: that artistic quality always wins in the end. And I do believe that not all editions of a classic work are created equal, even if the text is identical.

What I am confused about is this: so AGG might be in the public domain, but a current, copyrighted edition of the work is not, right? What I mean is that, even though the text of AGG is public domain, that does not mean that a recent Penguin version of AGG, for example, is public domain and that you can specifically use that Penguin version to copy from, right? Doesn't your source material for the text need to be public domain as well? If so, where do you find the source material? I suppose that cannot be traced, but this question was bugging me.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Franzilla on February 11, 2013, 02:51 PM

What I am confused about is this: so AGG might be in the public domain, but a current, copyrighted edition of the work is not, right? What I mean is that, even though the text of AGG is public domain, that does not mean that a recent Penguin version of AGG, for example, is public domain and that you can specifically use that Penguin version to copy from, right? Doesn't your source material for the text need to be public domain as well? If so, where do you find the source material? I suppose that cannot be traced, but this question was bugging me.

I wonder about this too. It must surely be the original work? But how a person goes about finding that and confirming that it is, I have no idea,

I agree re rewrites of classics too - if they're good, they're good! And if, say, AGG was only one book and someone had recently written the sequels where Anne gets married and so on... Well, I'd love that re-writing author!!
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Danyelle on February 11, 2013, 03:01 PM
Quote
I've gotta say -- even though that's not very different than what I was talking about earlier, with imprints like Barnes & Noble publishing its own line of classics at a lower price than the versions offered by other publishing houses, the idea of a self-publisher doing this for money really rubs me the wrong way.

Why? Unless I'm misunderstanding, imprints like those of Barnes and Nobles are also making money off of this. (Not this exact book, of course, but the one they printed.)

Quote
I was under the impression that this self-published version did not change the story at all
contradicts
Quote
some opportunist take advantage of the fact that many readers don't know public domain laws and won't understand how this version is different than one being sold by a major publishing house with an editorial staff.

If the text is the same text that was previously published, wouldn't it be text that has gone through a publishing house with an editorial staff?

I'm with you though--I would rather classics like this were handled by, say, a university.

I do have the same question about source material. Could be a legal headache down the road.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Christine B. on February 11, 2013, 03:44 PM
Why? Unless I'm misunderstanding, imprints like those of Barnes and Nobles are also making money off of this. (Not this exact book, of course, but the one they printed.)

 I may sound like a big nerd to say this, but no, not all versions of a classic are the same and there may be a difference between, say, the B&N version and this self-published one. Even if the text is 100% the same, different versions are, well, different. One might contain a meaningful forward, or artwork, or footnotes. And it's not always safe to assume that the text is 100% the same. I've definitely read cheaper versions of classics that contain errors. It's common, I think. A reputable publisher with editorial integrity is the best bet to avoid a version with errors and know you are staying true to the source material. A Barnes & Noble version, even though if it is done with an eye towards being an income-maker, is probably accurate -- at least it has undergone editorial scrutiny by a professional editor. Whereas a version from a self-publisher could vary greatly. Maybe that self-publisher has tremendous integrity and love for the original text and is offering a beautiful edition. On the other hand, if that self-publisher just wants to make money fast, who knows how accurately s/he has presented the text? It could contain errors.

If the text is the same text that was previously published, wouldn't it be text that has gone through a publishing house with an editorial staff?

In theory, it should be the same text, but as I said above, it's not uncommon for new versions of classics to contain errors.

When I said I was under the impression that this version did not change the story, I meant that it didn't change it intentionally -- i.e. it's not a retelling of the story. It could certainly contain errors, omissions and typos, and at the very least, to me a book is a piece of art including the cover and I want to be proud to display it on my bookshelf. (Or, er...e-bookshelf?)

So I agree--I like my classics handled by a university, or a library, or at least a publisher who may be a commercial venture but nevertheless has strong values and a promise to be faithful to the original!
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Danyelle on February 11, 2013, 04:26 PM
Ah. That makes sense. :D

I've been running into this with 1001 Arabian Nights. This is slightly different in that an English translation is never going to be exact, but even among publishers, the type and strength of the translations differ widely. Even the stories that are included in standard translations are not necessarily those that are considered canon to the original. I have to say that in this case *who* publishes it is important to me, along with how the sample holds up.

Not a nerd at all. I definitely prefer books that stay faithful--or as faithful as they can with respect to translations--to the original text.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: HaroldU on February 11, 2013, 04:32 PM
I've never published an edition of a public domain work, but my understanding is that someone COULD use a Penguin or other publisher's edition, which presumably is word-for-word from some other source (which in a publisher's case might be old production files from a previous edition). But the source could also be Project Gutenberg or some other public domain resource. And it could, if you went to the trouble, be an old edition, which you scanned and OCRed. But I don't think you have to go to that trouble.

What you could not use from a Penguin edition would be the original material that they added, if any, such as an introduction or scholarly notes. Those are new and copyrighted by Penguin, and that's one reason that publishers often add material to a republication of a classic. They want to give people reasons to buy it.

But the public domain material is truly free to all--to copy, to alter, to mess around with, whether we or the author or their estate like it or not.

I do think that movie adaptations are a different kind of thing, especially when the copyright is still held by the author or their estate. LOTR, for example, is not public domain, and in fact the movies would have been licensed by the Tolkien estate, with or without the right for them to review what the production company was up to (I'm guessing without, though).
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Danyelle on February 11, 2013, 04:41 PM
Thanks, Harold. :D That makes a lot of sense.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Artemesia on February 11, 2013, 04:49 PM
So, someone pointed out earlier in the thread that even though the text is now public domain, the image of Anne is still owned by the family? So the person who put out this edition probably picked a model/stock photo clearly not fitting Anne's description for legal reasons? They should have paid for a stock photo of PEI or something, or maybe they thought the controversy was good publicity. They certainly have us talking about it.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Christine B. on February 11, 2013, 05:20 PM
So, someone pointed out earlier in the thread that even though the text is now public domain, the image of Anne is still owned by the family? So the person who put out this edition probably picked a model/stock photo clearly not fitting Anne's description for legal reasons? They should have paid for a stock photo of PEI or something, or maybe they thought the controversy was good publicity. They certainly have us talking about it.

I agree with you that they may well have been trying to create a stir to get press. It sort of worked (but didn't really since they've pulled the book).

 Do you think that the family still owns the copyright to "the image of Anne" though? I was thinking not -- I thought they could use a photo of a plucky, redhaired girl as long as they had permission to use the specific photo in question. Not sure if there was an official, original Anne. I have read LM Montgomery based her image off a photo of Evelyn Nesbitt.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: HaroldU on February 12, 2013, 07:29 PM
I hope whoever said that about the image of Anne would come back and provide more information. There are two possibilities. Either they have trademarked a particular image of Anne (trademarks don't expire, provided they are used), or there is some "right of publicity" claim here--though I don't think you can do that with a fictional character.

I doubt that the person who created that version had any concerns about that--they chose that photo to be provocative, not to avoid possible legal issues.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: christripp on February 14, 2013, 02:12 AM
That person was me:)
Here is what I had read that caused me to post earlier.  It's copied from the official Prince Edward Island web site.

THE ANNE OF GREEN GABLES LICENSING AUTHORITY INC.
The Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority Inc. (the "Anne Authority") is jointly owned by the Province of Prince Edward Island and Ruth Macdonald and David Macdonald, who are the heirs of L.M. Montgomery.  The Anne Authority was established to protect the integrity of the images of Anne, to preserve and enhance the legacy of L.M. Montgomery and her literary works, and to control the use of Anne of Green Gables and related trademarks and official marks, including Green Gables House ("Anne" trademarks).  By "images of Anne" we mean words and images depicting the fictional characters, places and events described in Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables and related novels.
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Artemesia on February 14, 2013, 09:00 AM
Cool! Thanks for posting that, Chris!

Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: Christine B. on February 14, 2013, 10:25 AM
By "images of Anne" we mean words and images depicting the fictional characters, places and events described in Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables and related novels.

Wow, that is interesting. It is quite broad then. Do you think the cover image of any unauthorized version would be an infringement, then? Because for instance in the cover we're talking about, even though the image doesn't portray how most of us envision Anne, she is still meant to be Anne. Do you think that has anything to do with why the book was pulled down from the site?

Thanks for posting, Chris!

Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: christripp on February 15, 2013, 02:00 AM
It really is a broad definition isn't it and lends itself to all sort of interpretations. When it comes to, words and images depicting characters, places and events, could that not extent to the book in it's entirety really? What is left??

Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: christripp on February 15, 2013, 02:06 AM
Another thought, if this legal authority was set up to partly preserve the authors legacy, would not any writer have to approach them and ask permission/pay a fee perhaps, to use the characters, setting in a book. So, though the story is in the public domain, it almost looks like you can not DO anything with it, unless there is approval? Perhaps a legal way to STOP infringement of the books??
Wonder if that is really why the book has been pulled by this "writer", the AGG authority found out about it because of the attention it received in the press perhaps?
Title: Re: More cover controversy
Post by: HaroldU on February 15, 2013, 04:06 PM
Trademark law requires specificity and context. You can, for example, trademark a particular shade of green for your employee's aprons in a coffee shop. You can't trademark ALL greens or go beyond the world of the coffee shop...

They are making a claim in that statement. The question is: how often have they gone to court to back up that claim? In what circumstances? Did they win? I suspect they are making a broad claim but only taking to court cases they where they have a strong argument. But I could be wrong. Trademark law functions quite differently from copyright law and I don't understand it fully.

However, I'm pretty sure they could not take that self-publisher to court and win. That might not stop them from writing threatening letters, of course.