I got duped by Stephen King's utterly untalented doppleganger

I was trying out my new kindle (well, not new, but new to me) and for fun put in “Stephen King” just to see what the interface looks like, how it works, etc. Imagine my surprise and joy when I found he has a new book of short stories. I downloaded it tout de suite, looking forward to reading it in bed. About three words in I noticed the style was decidedly not Kingly. First I thought maybe it was a newly discovered story he’d written in junior high or that it would turn out to be a story within a story and I was reading a sample of the slow witted protagonist’s writing. I got to the end of the story that concluded just as stupidly as it had begun and could not figure out what was up. Turns out it’s just some hack who has managed to get a book published with King’s name on it. How is that even legal? And how can a company such as Amazon carry it? Most important, how can anything written as poorly as this one is get published at all, fake name or not?

Sample the dreck if you dare.

It’s entirely possible that there is more than one author in the world whose name is “Stephen King”.

Because names – whether real names or pen-names – can’t be copyrighted.

Maybe it’s by Colorado Congressman Steven King? I understand he’s responsible for some very scary things

Or maybe THIS Steve King?


(Why is it only Republican legislators that are named Stephen King?)
Or one of these:

The 68% one-star ratings, most of which tell you that this is NOT the famous horror writer, probably should have given you some warning.

If you follow the link you posted, about halfway down the page, there’s a note that says:

That points out one small problem with self published books – you can create confusion about the author. It’s not impossible that the person here is using “Stephen King” as a pseudonym.

In commercial publishing, no one would be able to use the name of a successful author; publishers know this will piss off readers and sabotage the newcomer.

Back in the 80s, there was an aspiring SF writer named Robert Heinlein. Editors kept telling him he needed to use a pseudonym; he refused. He also was never published. If he had said, “OK, I’m Bob Heins,” he may have been.

He renders his name just as well as the other Stephen King, one Stephen King as good as the other. The actual stories however…

I thought this thread was going to be about Richard Bachman.

I don’t think you can copyright titles either so what’s to stop this other Stephen King writing a book called The Shining and waiting for the revenue from mistaken buyers to pour in?

Author names can be however trademarked, as i assume Stephen King’s name is. Which means you cannot use that name unless it’s in fair use.

So what we have here is somebody small and unknown enough not to draw the attention of any of King’s lawyers and Amazon not being all that picky with their content providers. Quite interesting. I’d file a complaint, see if they return the money or something.

No-one’s explored the possibility that he’s gone down the Tom Clancy / Virginia Andrews route of franchising his name and getting hacks to fill up the series. In both cases they were posthumous actions by their greedy estates.

Maybe that means Stephen King is d-d-d-d-dead!

Always read the one star reviews. Granted, many complain about foul language (I don’t care), unlikable characters (I still don’t care), and characters they don’t identify with (what are you, six?). However, quite a few will tell you that the formatting is bad (I care), it’s a YA book (I REALLY care), it’s actually more of a romance (ew, ick) or that it’s self-published (RUN!!!). Seriously, most of the one star reviews I can ignore, but sometimes they save me a godawful purchase.

You mean like Robert Ludlum?

It looks like this is a self-published eBook, so all the author had to do to get it published and get Amazon to carry it was pay whatever the required fee was.

As Superdude pointed out, the Amazon page for this book actually does have a note indicating that it’s NOT by the bestselling author of The Shining, so it doesn’t seem fair to blame them for your confusion. I see that many of the reviews also explain that this book isn’t by the famous Stephen King.

Can you explain this? If “Stephen King” is trademarked as an author’s name, does that mean that no one else in the US can legally publish a book under that name? Would they have to publish as “Stephen W. King” or “Steve King” or something like that?

I notice that the book by this Stephen King is the #1750 paid book in the Kindle store right now. For people who never look at those rankings that might not seem high, but that’s really good. (By way of random comparison, Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” - which is certainly old at this point but very well known and still in print - is #11,819.) So I’m guessing this has come to people’s attention, or soon will.

I’m actually surprised this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often. Is there anything to stop me from publishing something on Amazon and making my nom de plume “Michael F Crichton” and advertising it as a “lost Crichton adventure!”?

ETA: And yes, I also thought this thread was going to be about Richard Bachman. :slight_smile:

Shometimes dead is better.

Thanks all. I guess I *did * have some vague idea that author’s names are, not copyrighted exactly, but that there is some sort of rule prohibiting this kind of thing :confused: As to Amazon, I don’t *blame *them or think they are trying to dupe people, it just seems like a weird thing for them to allow. Also, I didn’t go to the site until the next day. Looking at it now, I can see that it looks fishy but I can also imagine others making the same mistake. Not a huge deal - I didn’t have to pay for it or anything- it was just a weird, wtf moment.

The trademark issue on book title’s is a bit murky.

Note that you can’t trademark just “Stephen King”. You have to trademark a product, e.g., “Stephen King’s Hamburgers”. Hence, “Apple” isn’t trademarkable but Apple Computers" and “Apple Music” are. (Which is a long running issue between those two companies.)

Could Stephen King trademark “Stephen King’s Books”? Maybe. Better might be “Stephen King’s The Shining Book.” But that wouldn’t stop the OP’s author.

Companies have used IP laws to protect their “brand” of books. E.g., the “For Dummies” people (IDG and then Wiley), have successfully stopped others from publishing books with “For Dummies” in the title. IIRC, the legal basis is trademark on something like “For Dummies Books”.

A man’s [del] book[/del] heart is [del] phonier [/del] stonier.