Amazon Montlake and Cassie Edwards’ Backlist

On June 16, Kelly Instalove (aka @kelly_instalove) tweeted that Amazon Montlake was selling digital versions of much of Cassie Edwards' backlist, and that said titles were available for Kindle lending.

The sound of my jaw dropping was probably heard for miles around. 

If you're not familiar, back in 2008, Candy, co-founder of this hot pink palace, lent three romances to a friend, one of which was a Cassie Edwards novel. Said friend noticed suspicious passages in the book, which led her to Google, which led her to finding wholesale plagiarism in that novel.

She documented their findings in one blog post, which turned into two, which turned into several, and several more, and ended up as a mighty mighty PDF document detailing over 100 instances of plagiarized source material in Edwards' books. Sometimes the sources were out of print memoirs of Native Americans; sometimes the sources were Defenders of Nature articles about black footed ferrets – the lines from which became dialogue. Post coital dialogue, in fact.

The writers who were plagiarized included Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Frances Densmore, and Mari Sandoz – Dear Author profiled several of these writers in 2008.

Eventually, Signet returned the rights to Edwards' books, and after a few weeks of brouhaha, that was about it. 

Five years later, enter Kelly's tweet.

Since 2008, we've seen so many changes in how romance is published, and what is published. There are best seller fanfics now, and writers and readers both are grappling with what derivative works, if any, they want to read or write.

Meanwhile, Amazon changed a lot, too. They went from being a retailer to a Very Big Retailer to a publisher – and now four of their romances are among those nominated for the RITA® award this year – an accomplishment about which I am told they are very excited.

All changes aside, plagiarism: still wrong. It still makes me twitchy, and really makes me mad. As I've said in other discussions, it's treason among writers.

So I bought Savage Beloved for Kindle and opened it up on my desktop alongside the documented passages in the PDF, hoping those passages would be gone or changed. All the passages were still there, exactly the same. 

I reached out to Susan Stockman, PR specialist for Amazon Montlake, on 17 June and asked about Amazon's policy regarding plagiarism, and whether they were aware of the plagiarized passages in Edwards' books.

Ms. Stockman replied today, 18 June, with this statement:

Montlake Romance does not accept plagiarized works, and we take questions of plagiarism very seriously.

Last year, Amazon Publishing won a foreclosure proceeding and acquired contracts for over 1,000 titles from 150 authors from Dorchester Publishing.  That included 58 books by Cassie Edwards.  We are aware that nine of those 58 books were included in plagiarism accusations against the author. 

We are conducting our own review of all 58 titles by Ms. Edwards – meanwhile, will be removing all of the titles currently available on our site as we continue to look into this matter.

As of this evening, the Kindle versions of Edwards' books are no longer availble. I'm glad they responded and did the right thing by taking the books down pending review. 

I'm hoping that Amazon Montlake does not put any of Cassie Edwards' plagiarized titles back up for sale.

Categorized:

General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    aida alberto says:

    I was a huge Cassie Edwards fan until I read about what she done and it broke my heart to see a writer with her talent fall the way she did.  At first it was hard to believe what she had done because why would such a well known and popular author sink to that level?

  2. 2
    reesa says:

    I’ve gotta say kudos for Amazon Montlake; so far they have dealt with this much better than Cassie Edwards or her former publisher.

  3. 3
    Liz says:

    I have to agree with Reesa.  During the whole Cassie-gate thing, she was unwilling to take responsibility for her actions and kept pointing fingers at Sarah and Candy because they tattled on her.  I am actually really surprised Amazon has responded so swiftly and so well.  Plagiarism doesn’t seem to be taken very seriously by anyone outside of academia that it is refreshing to see such a huge company taking a stand against it.

  4. 4
    StarOpal says:

    Good on Amazon!

    Wow so the Cassie Edwards plagiarism saga continues. I wonder how Paul Tolmé is doing these days.

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    @Staropal: I looked at his website last night, and he’s still writing – which is awesome.

  6. 6

    I never, ever, EVER, thought I’d say this but good on Amazon. They’re taking an appropriate response

  7. 7
    azteclady says:

    I am very, very surprised at amazon, but it’s the good kind of surprised.

    Five years and counting, and this still comes up, though.

  8. 8
    Ann says:

    Wow.

    I have two questions (or more) though. If Signet returned the copyright of Edwards books, how did they become part of the Dorchester set?  Also, isn’t Dorchester the group that didn’t pay a whole bunch of their authors when they went belly up?  And then they sold their e-pub rights? 

    Am I mishmashing/misremembering this?

  9. 9
    Tracy Brogan says:

    Actually, six Montlake authors have been nominated for a RITA.  And as a Montlake Publishing author, I’m not remotely surprised that they take this issue seriously.

  10. 10
    Julaine says:

    So five years after she was caught and outed as a plagiarist Cassie Edwards still doesn’t have the decency to remove the material she stole from other sources or properly site it to the original author?  Why am I not surprised?  I am sure she would have happily taken any royalties from the book sales; as well. Just as she was happy to keep the royalties for the books with plagiarized material within back in 2008 and blame everyone else for pointing out her crime. 

    As I stated on another site a few days ago, we as a book community need to get a handle on this problem. Legally fighting is often time consuming, frustrating, expensive and ultimately futile.  Until the penalties are greater than simply forcing the plagiarist to remove their stolen material too many people are going to be tempted to take the shortcut of stealing from their more ethical and talented brethren.

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