The McDonaldization of literature

The International Herald Tribune writes that certain types of books are becoming franchises where a book series gets published under an author’s “brand”, but the books are actually written by others, often uncredited:

[Robert Ludlum’s] estate has borrowed from the examples of V.C. Andrews, dead since 1986 but selling well thanks to novels in her name written by an uncredited author; Ernest Hemingway, whose estates issued several books after his suicide; and Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler (both quite alive), who diverted from their solo thrillers to create series written in conjunction with, or solely by, others.

“People expect something from a Robert Ludlum book, and if we can publish Ludlum books for the next 50 years and satisfy readers, we will,” said Jeffrey Weiner, the executor of Ludlum’s estate.


Whether it is fair to readers to publish Ludlum books posthumously - in the form of spruced-up old manuscripts or new novels written by others - is not a serious concern to the estate or to Grand Central Publishing, the former Warner Books, where the rights to all new novels moved from St. Martin’s Press.

In short, the “Robert Ludlum’s book” and similar franchises are the new McDonald’s of literature:

Full IHT article: The Ludlum conundrum: A dead novelist provides new thrills. The Wikipedia on McDonaldization.