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Policies & Practices > Role and Pseudonyms

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This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments A week or two ago, there was a question about how to deal with a case where a book was published as "anonymous" but the author was actually (retroactively) known. The suggested solution was to use the actual author name as the author but put "as Anonymous" as the role. This ends up listing the author on the book as:

Author (as Anonymous)

While working on Alexandre Dumas, I stumbled across a number of books attributed to him but actually written by other authors, e.g., The Son of Monte-Cristo. I thought of using the same approach in cleaning up the author, that is, I used the real author (for this specific example, Jules Lermina) but but "as Alexandre Dumas" as the role.

If you look at the book link above, I think this actually comes out very nicely. This also looks to me like it could be a partial solution to the pseudonym problem. I wanted to get some feedback/ideas/suggestions on using this sort of approach (or asking for enhancements to it) to deal with pseudonyms.

Off the top of my head, one of the primary positives is that it keeps authorship correct and would make things like combining editions published under alternate names much clearer. The obvious negative is that roles are not searchable, so searching for the "published" name would not turn up the book. This may be something GoodReads can fix, if we ask nicely.

Anyway, what do people think. Does this work as a potential solution? What are the potential advantages/disadvantages that you see? Is there something we can ask for that would solve the problem? Should this be applied broadly or only to narrow cases?

Here is another, slightly more complicated test case (I haven't actually made any changes to these): Both The Cobweb and Interface were originally published under the author "Stephen Bury". Later this was revealed to be the work of two people: Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George. Except that J. Frederick George is actually itself a pen name for a historian named George F. Jewsbury. Currently all editions of both of these books on GoodReads list three authors (or they did last time I checked): Neal Stephenson, George F. Jewsbury, and Stephen Bury (with the profile of the latter describing the fact that it is a fake name made up of two people). The actual books are published in two forms:

1. Author: Stephen Bury (the original editions)
2. Authors: Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George (latter editions, after Stephenson became famous and everyone realized they could successfully remarket these under his actual name)

Using the new approach we could list just two authors (rather than three) for every edition, Neal Stephenson and George F. Jewsbury. For those books which fall under those for the first case, we could put "as Stephen Bury" as the role for both authors. For those books which fall under the second case, Neal Stephenson would not require any role, but we could put "as J. Frederick George" as the role for George F. Jewsbury.

This (a) simplifies the books by listing only two authors rather than three, (b) makes it clearer on any given edition why the listed authors may/may not match what is specifically on the cover, and (c) allows us to get rid of a fake profile (would want to add a note to the real author profiles that they have published under the alternate name). The sole disadvantage that I see is that if someone did a search for "Stephen Bury" the name wouldn't come up. Again, this might be fixable.


Ralph Gallagher | 212 comments This looks like a good idea to me! It would certainly uncomplicate things. Good idea!


message 3: by Cait (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments The sole disadvantage that I see is that if someone did a search for "Stephen Bury" the name wouldn't come up.

That strikes me as a rather big disadvantage, unfortunately -- if someone has the book in hand and searches title+author, they'll find nothing.

Which is a shame, because this is a really nice solution otherwise!


message 4: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn (seeford) | 579 comments It looks like a wonderful solution, but I agree with Cait, the lack of searchability on that field is a huge disadvantage.


Ralph Gallagher | 212 comments What if we included the pseudonym in the description too? I believe it will be searchable then.


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments I'm not sure if descriptions are searchable or not.

GoodReads might be willing to make the role searchable. We haven't asked yet.


message 7: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44148 comments Mod
Descriptions are not searchable.

I'll ask Otis to pop in here when he gets a chance.


message 8: by Lindig (new)

Lindig | 167 comments Would this help with "house names"? You know, the ones used as the author but which are actually written by different people? Quinn Fawcett, for instance, is a house name created by the editor/packager Bill Fawcett and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro; in most Fawcett cases, Yarbro is the true author but not in all (as the house name belongs to Bill Fawcett).


message 9: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 25237 comments NT Michael, would it be possible to have 'as Alexandre Dumas' as the 2nd author so that it would be searchable?

I agree that your present solution looks very good but the searchability is a huge problem, as people will most likely only input Alexandre Dumas; we could potentially end up with a larger mess in the future.


message 10: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44148 comments Mod
That's the current solution (except minus the "as", which is a problem to have as part of an author name).


message 11: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 25237 comments Yeh, I wasn't sure about the 'as', but if it could be done it would distinguish it from being a second author.

As you know I don't know much about how the db searches etc, just wondering if it was possible.


message 12: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 593 comments As long as this isn't intended as a permanent solution to the AKA issue, because there are authors that would benefit from the AKA feature that don't fit this model very well.

The easiest example that comes to mind for me is Sherrilyn Kenyon, who also writes as Kinley MacGregor. As far as I know, even though her real name (Sherrilyn) is more well known, there is no push to add that to reissues of the books written as Kinley.


message 13: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44148 comments Mod
mlady_rebecca wrote: "As long as this isn't intended as a permanent solution to the AKA issue, because there are authors that would benefit from the AKA feature that don't fit this model very well."

Agreed entirely.


message 14: by Otis, Chief Architect (new)

Otis Chandler | 315 comments Mod
Descriptions are not searchable - that would be a search nightmare :)

We could add the role of the author to the index. This would make authors with roles like Editor/Photographer/Illustrator/Translater rank for those terms. Is there any danger in that?


message 15: by Cait (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments Otis wrote: "We could add the role of the author to the index. This would make authors with roles like Editor/Photographer/Illustrator/Translater rank for those terms. Is there any danger in that?"

That does sound useful, as long as it's included specifically in the inauthor: filter!


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments I can't think of any danger in that, although it's always what you don't think of which comes back to bite you on the ass.

I'd say that if you're doing a search for "translator" or "editor" you're pretty much asking for trouble anyway :-)


message 17: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44148 comments Mod
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "although it's always what you don't think of which comes back to bite you on the ass."

Right about now, I wish we had sigs. ;)


message 18: by Sherry (new)

Sherry (ssaccoliti) | 550 comments For Don Pendleton we decided to include the actual author as the author and add Don Pendleton with role Series Creator. http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...

Same for Tom Clancy.
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2... Message 16 by This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For

I think we might be inconsistent ...


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments At this point the inconsistency doesn't bother me. I think there are some subtle differences between the Clancy/Pendleton situation and some of those described above, although perhaps its hard to pin down at times. Although the publisher was purposefully vague and misleading, I don't know that they ever claimed Clancy wrote any of those books, they just tried to set things up to let the reader make the wrong assumption (splashing his name on the cover in large letters with the much smaller "created by"). The cases which we started this thread talking about are deliberate pseudonyms of forgeries.


message 20: by anne (new)

anne (anneinchicago) | 1 comments Um, new here.

Anyway, can't we just put down the pseudonym as a second author with the role as pseud.?


message 21: by Mahriana (last edited May 18, 2010 11:52PM) (new)

Mahriana Rofheart Should a book published with a different spelling of an author's name (due to language) be treated the same way as a book published under a pseudonym?

I am working on the entry for Doomi Golo, and I am going to do it that way, but if it is wrong, please let me know.


message 22: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn (seeford) | 579 comments margaine wrote: "Should a book published with a different spelling of an author's name (due to language) be treated the same way as a book published under a pseudonym? ..."

I'm unfamiliar with that author or their books, but we generally research to find the most accurate name to use for the author and standardize all the spelling variants to that one.

The only different approach is when working with author names in entirely different alphabets/characters, like Cyrillic, or the different Asian languages. That doesn't seem to apply in this case.


message 23: by Phil (new)

Phil (notacat) | 37 comments Anneinchicago wrote: "Um, new here.

Anyway, can't we just put down the pseudonym as a second author with the role as pseud.?"


I was going to suggest this myself: did anything substantive result from this discussion?


message 24: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44148 comments Mod
That has become the de facto standard, actually.

Don't recall if it ever got added to the manual, but I have a feeling it didn't. It should so if someone wanted to suggest a proposed wording in a new thread in the Manual Additions folder, that would be a good start . . .


message 25: by Phil (last edited Aug 27, 2010 09:20AM) (new)

Phil (notacat) | 37 comments rivka wrote: "That has become the de facto standard, actually."

OK, so that does mean that J.D. Robb needs a bunch of work doing. Thanks for that :-P *le sigh*

Just in passing, I note that the two books which sparked off this thread do not seem to have been changed: should this be done, or was it decided elsewhere not to?


message 26: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44148 comments Mod
I suspect the only reason it hasn't been done was inertia. ;)


message 27: by Phil (new)

Phil (notacat) | 37 comments Can someone confirm that I've done Treachery in Death correctly before I embarass myself on the other 31+ books in the series (never mind the various short stories)?

Oh, and should the same be done for the various different formats also? I can see a bunch of "CD collections" which presumably ought to be treated the same…


message 28: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44148 comments Mod
For ones like that, where the book is only published under the pseudonym, I'd rather see the pseudonym first (with no "role") and then the author's real name.

In no case should the role be "as X" if X is also listed as "pseudonym" -- that's just redundant.


message 29: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44148 comments Mod
And thanks for tackling this!


message 30: by willaful (last edited Aug 27, 2010 10:27AM) (new)

willaful I see confusion coming with this book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36...

Which was written with the first half by "Roberts," the second half by "Robb." (Cute, no?)


message 31: by Phil (last edited Aug 27, 2010 01:41PM) (new)

Phil (notacat) | 37 comments OK, I'll go with @Rivka's suggestion. It's just a pain and a pest that you can't re-order the author list and edit the roles at the same time: you lose the new role when you move the next entry into place. Hopefully I won't have to do that too many times, though.


message 32: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44148 comments Mod
Phil wrote: "It's just a pain and a pest that you can't re-order the author list and edit the roles at the same time"

It really is, but I've been told it's almost impossible to fix. Alas!


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