Internet Shock Re Janet Frame Biography
The embargoed text of Michael King's biography of New Zealand writer Janet Frame, launched last night in Dunedin by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, was offered for sale on the Internet two months before publication.
"This was a considerable shock to everyone associated with the book, including Frame, and was of course completely illegal and unethical", Dr King said last night.
"An American bookseller had a set of bound proofs of the book supplied by the American publisher, Perseus. The purpose of circulating proofs was to encourage booksellers to place large orders for the book. One bookseller in Sacramento, California, decided to capitalise on worldwide interest in the biography and sell his two months ahead of publication".
Dr King said the single set of proofs appeared to have been bought by an American buyer, and the offer was not repeated by other booksellers.
"It's yet another example of how the operation of the Internet threatens the effectiveness of legislation and conventions associated with publishing and copyright. Such legislation needs to be revised to cope with situations that earlier legislators had no way of predicting", said Dr King.