Stealing Books in the Age of Self-Publishing

Stopped by Rachel Ann Nunes’ GoFundMe and found an update with a link to the following article.

One day two years ago Rachel Ann Nunes, who writes Mormon fiction and romance novels, received an email from a reader asking a strange question: Had she collaborated with someone named Sam Taylor Mullens? Nunes had never heard the name before. But the reader went on to say she had noticed similarities between one of Nunes’s novels, A Bid for Love, and another self-published book by Mullens. When the reader confronted Mullens about the parallels, she was told the two authors were simply collaborators. If that was a lie, the reader said—and it was—then Nunes may have been the unwitting victim of plagiarism.

With that single exchange, Nunes found herself part of a trend affecting many professional authors in the age of self-publishing. An anonymous stranger seemed to have stolen her book, changed it superficially, and passed it off as her own work. First published in 1998, A Bid for Love did well enough to spawn two sequels before it eventually went out-of-print. Mullens’ book, titled The Auction Deal, looked like the same story with much of the same language. In Chapter 2, Nunes writes, “The dark brown curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for twenty-eight of Cassi’s twenty-nine years.” Compare that to Chapter 2 of Mullen’s book, which begins, “Dark brunette curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for the thirty-one years of my life.”

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