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The Most Disgraceful Book Cover Ever! June 11, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Book Reviews, On Writing.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Rarely do I see such a disgraceful book cover.  See photos below.  Pretty self explanatory.  Pardon the quality of the photos as I took them surreptitiously on my phone camera.

The front cover

The front cover

The back cover

The back cover

For those still confused, the real author’s name is Simon Kernick, and the name of book is Deadline (both down at the bottom).  I’ve seen ‘if you enjoyed X’ type recommendations for new novels before, but this took it to a whole new level.  You can even get the book for free if you pre-order Dan Brown’s forthcoming The Lost Symbol!  The writing on the back cover is not very clear, but the top half is dedicated to why you should read Dan Brown – only the bottom half is about Deadline.

There is no right of publicity in the UK, but I’m sure both Brown and Kernick would be spewing if they knew about this cover (and at least a prima facie case of passing off could be made).  It’s designed to mislead and deceive the careless book buyer, or at the very least cause what is commonly referred to as ‘initial interest confusion’.  The danger is exacerbated when this book is placed right next to Dan Brown’s books, which it was when I found it in WH Smith (a UK bookstore chain).

The thing is, Kernick is not some crappy first time author who can’t sell a copy.  His previous novel, Relentless, was the 8th best-selling paperback, and the best-selling thriller in the UK in 2007.

[Update: seems this book cover controversy has really taken off, with several blogs and newspapers reporting it.  Turns out Kernick knew about it from the start and is quite relaxed about it – because the book was only supposed to be given for free when pre-ordering Brown’s new book, and not to be sold individually.  But what do you expect when the book is placed amongst the other Dan Brown books on the shelves?  Sure, Kernick’s sales have gone up since this promotion (good for him) but as a writer I thought he would have been against it, or at least the way in which it was placed in stores.]


1. Bernie Nyman - June 19, 2009

It does look suspiciously like a case of passing off, and one’s initial reaction would be to alert Dan Brown’s publisher – until you look closer and see that:

1. the publisher of Simon Kernick’s book just happens to be Dan Brown’s (paperback) publisher (Corgi – part of Transworld, who are in turn part of Random House UK); and

2. It appears to be a special WH Smith promotion – presumably (must have been) arranged with Corgi.

Let’s hope Dan Brown was consulted beforehand!

Bernie Nyman

Jeremy Burnell - July 10, 2009

I too picked up the book and thought ” wow, I’ve missed a Dan Brown novel” – It is so in your face that this book is DB; I took it to the counter and was advised that the NEXT DB book would automatically be preordered for me for purchasing this one. Only when I had left WHS, and relooked at the book, did I realise it was not a DB written book at all – I do hope that books don’t get sold in future this way. Books, DVD’s, games – it’s all VERY wrong

2. Sorry, who wrote this book again?: Dan Brown headlines on someone else’s book | Quill & Quire - July 22, 2009

[…] cover (which can be seen here) states, “If you like your thrillers as fast, furious and unputdownable as Dan Brown, then we […]

3. Mark Hall - July 22, 2009

And I thought all those Frank Frazetta covers with the heading “In the tradition of Conan” on sub-par sword & sorcery novel by authors you instantly forget was bad… What a new low for the publishing industry!

Best, MEH

4. Nico - July 23, 2009

Wow, that really is the most disgraceful thing ever.

Especially as I, personally, might have AVOIDED the book based on the cover. Knowing that it’s not actually by Dan Brown speaks better for it.

5. Dan Brown, une marque à contrefaire pour vendre un auteur | Euroxis - July 23, 2009

[…] Crédit photo : PaceJMiller […]

6. Linda Ellen - August 8, 2009

Holy crow! That is so sad. I feel bad for Simon Kernick. If I were a published writer and saw that on my work, I’d rip my hair out. When I first saw the cover on this post, I knew Deadline is not a published title written by Dan Brown. Gosh…

7. inspiredworlds - December 27, 2009

Lol that’s pretty funny. Nice pick up pace!

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