BBC1’s "The One Show" will question publishers’ policy towards ghostwriting tonight (16th May). The show will focus on ghostwritten celebrity books and children’s branded books that claim to be written by a famous author when they have been written by somebody else.
Among the cases highlighted on the show will be Katie Price’s adult and children’s books (Random House) and Enid Blyton’s Wishing Chair continuation titles (Egmont Press), in which the real author’s name is "hidden".
Alonso Ercilla from the Trading Standards Institute said there is a clear case for publishers to answer, according to The Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
He said: "The regulations concern the information that consumers need to make an informed decision before they buy something. In the case of books, this includes information about the author and if publishers use the name of someone famous in a misleading way, then that is a breach of the regulations."
Egmont Press responded in a statement, "A handful of new (Enid Blyton) titles were specially commissioned with the aim of continuing the stories of some of the characters she created, together with some new stories featuring new characters, told in a modern voice sympathetic to Blyton's style."
The publisher said that there have been "one or two inconsistencies in clearly identifying on their covers which are the continuation titles". It added, "It has never been our intention to confuse or mislead readers, and we have already taken steps to ensure that, in future, it is perfectly clear which are written by Enid Blyton herself and which are written by others."
However, Random House responded that ghostwriting "has been around as long as literature itself". Its statement added, "Century/Arrow and Katie Price have always been totally open and transparent about Katie’s collaboration with Rebecca Farnworth, and Rebecca’s name is clearly credited on the copyright page in the novels."
The Trading Institute recommends that publishers seek to resolve any uncertainties through discussions with their Local Authority Trading Standards Department. A breach of the legislation could be treated as a criminal offence or be dealt with through the courts as a civil case or with injunctions.