Monday, February 24, 2014

Who Has A Monopoly On Ideas?

There seems to be a slew of parodies of children's books that are made for adults.  The best one from a few years ago is “Go The F—k To Sleep”.  These books can be funny and popular, but should their authors have to pay royalties to the original writer of the book it parodies?  Is their book a true parody?

If I wrote a book, I’d be outraged if someone cashed in on my fame and success.  I’d also be flattered, but not enough to not want payment!

But the law allows for the publishing of parodies and for the owner of the work that was parodied to get zero compensation.  Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

On the other hand, maybe if you want to make some easy money, take any popular book and turn it into a parody.  It will benefit from the name recognition of the original.  It will also get a lot of publicity if it’s really outrageous.

But if someone wants to make a sequel to your book, they can’t do it.  Make a funny version of it, yes.  Take a serious attempt to write a book based on another?  Forget it.

My son loves the game, Monopoly, and he created his own version – changing the properties to fit a food theme.  But he can’t just sell it on his own.  He needs permission from Hasbro, the owner of the great game.  But what if he did a parody and made jokes for his game – could he then claim it’s a parody?  Maybe.

What if you have a humor book?  How do you do a parody of that?   And what if you try to do a parody of a parody – or a serious version of a parody? 

Does anyone have a monopoly on the truth or on books?  Just as companies apply to get technology patents – even ones for things they don’t plan to create – writers could copyright a lot of books if they started generating all kinds of parodies.

You can also write books that talk about other books, summarize them, or critically analyze them.  You can create a children’s version of an adult book.  You can do a parody.  You can do a trivia book about a book.   It seems one good idea can go a long way.

If you are struggling to write something that will be a commercial success, just borrow the idea of another and write a book based on it.  No one has a monopoly on a good book.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014.

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