In a recent post in the Bookseller Blog, Freya North discussed the likelihood that good books by unknown writers are being rejected in favour of books by celebrities, which are more often than not ghostwritten. It’s an important point which warrants further discussion but a second point was made in the comment stream to that blog post, which is the one that I want to address here: that of the legalities of ghostwriting.
Discussing the news that Cheryl Cole has now been signed to write a series of chick-lit titles, a commenter by the name of Charles Hale (who states that he’s a QC, no less), wrote,
I am a lawyer, and with regard to the Cheryl Cole book situation, there is no question that if properly legally challenged, publishers would find themselves in trouble for their implication that Cheryl Cole wrote the books. It is, to be blunt, against the law to pass off a product sold as being anything other than that which it is.
Do you think that publishers which bring out ghostwritten memoirs and celebrity books are misrepresenting their products? Does anyone actually believe that the celebrities concerned really wrote their books? How complicit are we, as readers, in this apparent deceit? And does anyone think that publishers will ever be challenged on this front?