Books I’m Reading

Among the books I’m reading is Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite’s  Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy. Or should that be written as the authors’ names are actually listed in the book, Peter Drahos with John Braithwaite?

The “with” in place of “and” is classic publishing-speak for announcing that the person whose name follows the “with” is an otherwise-unacknowledged ghostwriter. Richard Posner writes in The Little Book of Plagiarism that this recent practice of making visible some ghostwriters by way of this “with” credit is giving the false impression that when no such “with” persona is mentioned, the book is not ghostwritten — something that is not true, and famously substantiated as not true with Hillary Clinton’s It Takes a Village.

Besides the substitution of “with” for “end”, Information Feudalism displays other signs of being an unequal co-authorship. The book is copyrighted by Peter Drahos solely and its dedication is to Frank and Vlasta Drahos. However, set against these suggestive paratextual evidence is this very sweet text by Peter Drahos himself. In the Preface to the book, he (and he alone) writes

Finally, a note of explanation concerning the authorship of this book. Right at the end of writing . . . Braithwaite announced that it should be credited as “Drahos with Braithwaiterather than “Drahos and Braithwaite.” It would be tedious to recount the many conversations that this particular Braithwaitean initiative inspired, but in the end and under considerable pressure Drahos relented. Drahos now, however, invites the reader to read the “with” as an “and”, since the “with” does not reflect Braithwaite’s wonderful contribution to this book . . . No doubt if Braithwaite were given the opportunity to reply he would insist on the “with” in his customary self-effacing and generous style. But as Drahos pens this last sentence on a beautiful summer’s day in Canberra he has decided not to give Braithwaite that opportunity.

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