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[Posted March 11, 2006]

Publishing Rules for Dummies

  Nara Narayana Visvakarma das

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Changes to Srila Prabhupada's Books

Publishing is a rarified area of endeavor. If you stop to think of it, all publishing does is take spoken or written words and puts them into print. There is a certain sanctity in that process that treats the words spoken or written by the author as a sacred and perhaps inspired or channelled stream of consciousness to be preserved in the durable form of a book. (and what I have described here is a MATERIAL author writing a MATERIAL book!) When the book is edited in collaboration with the author, when the author makes whatever changes that he himself wants and the book goes to publication, it is not longer subject to change. We all encounter second printings that advertise, "With more material", "Updated to include...", etc. These "changes" are not changes at all, they are ADDITIONS to the original edition. Sometimes mistakes are corrected. BUT WHO CORRECTS THEM? The AUTHOR of course! In the history of publishing, there are no cases of books being posthumously changed for any reason whatsoever without clear explanations as to why, and with the original unchanged volume still in print.

An interesting exception to this rule is a new (ish) scholarly study completely revising James Joyce's epic work Finnegan's Wake. The book was already famous and taught in practically every universsity. THEN IT WAS DISCOVERED that the book had been written in English by Joyce, translated badly into French, where a french PRINTER re-translated into English once again. Since the book is a 500-page rambling stream of conciousness, no one realized that a lot of the words written by James Joyce were not his words at all! So the new editors sorted out the book from the original manuscript and created an ANNOTATED corrected volume CLEARLY MARKED as revised and not the author's formerly published work. No one will ever become confused as to which version is which.

Where the Jayadvaita Swami Approach to Correcting "Errors" is Wrong

    THE RULES:

  1. No changes are made in a previously published work (even typos) without a footnote or an appendix to explain the change.

  2. Generally, the publisher continues to use the erroneous word cluster (eg "planet of the Trees") but notes it on the page, and then puts a footnote stating that the correct phrase would be "planet of the Pitris".

  3. Anyone who wants to can go back to Srila Prabhupada's tapes, listen to them, produce a manuscript and then publish it as a scholarly work. There have been literally THOUSANDS of such books collected, written and published on the topic of the Christian Bible, but no one pretends that such versions are equal to the original. These books remain commentaries, and anyone who is a serious scholar is quite welcome to read whatever he likes about Srila Prabhupada, and publish what he has writtten. None of this can be published as the original approved work of the author.

  4. Srila Prabhupada has stated that "even if the works of the pure devotee contain mistakes, it is still perfect". One should not overlook the fact that whatever went to print with Srila Prabhupada's clear stamp of approval, was "BLESSED" by Him which means "BLESSED" by Lord Krishna. Whatever mistakes are present, the "mistaken" version is BLESSED, and there is no reason to believe that the changed version is equally as blessed, due the fact that the original book was blessed by Krishna.

  5. Once again, there is no limit as to how many study guides, books of "errata" (mistakes), re-reading of material, commenting on it etc. There is nothing wrong with this. It is a practice that will add substance to what Srila Prabhupada has written without eclipsing it by the process of changing the original.

  6. In fact, each time the books are changed, the BBTI takes out a new copyright to cover the changed books! In real terms, this constitutes theft of intellectual property. Since either no mention is made of the changes, or if the changes are inconspicuously mentioned on a distant page, no normal average reader will know that if you purchase 5 copies of Srila Prabhupada's books, that you may be holding 5 significantly different versions in your hands.

  7. IF JAYADWAITA SWAMI REALLY WANTS TO EXTENSIVELY RE-EDIT AND CHANGE SRILA PRABHUPDA'S BOOKS, HE IS CERTAINLY WELCOME TO DO SO (at the risk of being sued for Copyright Infringement), BUT he must state that this book has been extensively "re-told", "changed" or edited by Jayadwaita Swami. This must be printed on the cover. He can also say, "The Bhagavad Gita as retold by JAS". He could also say, "A New Version of the Bhagavad Gita based on the Bhagavad Gita As It Is" by Jayadvaita Swami. He could do it, but he would be sued for theft of name and content. Of course, he would not be able to use the illlustrations or pictures of Srila Prabhupada in any meaningful way.

So book publishing has very strict rules, and anyone who violates them can be charged with criminal or civil crimes, for fraud, theft of intellectual property, etc etc. If sued, he would have no defense against any of the book changes, particularly due to the fact that when he changed them, he left the original books with their original copyrights in the original BBT Trust, and have stolen the books and placed them in the BBTI, and claimed that these changed versions with new copyrights to reflect the changes are actually now property of the BBTI!


Publishing Rules for Dummies/ Inside Nam Hatta
© 2004 - Hansadutta dasa
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