Earlier today I shared a post written by Michael Bird titled
The Mystery of Tom Wright’s New Book that He Didn’t Write (Bird has removed this post, providing an updated post: Wrightgate: the Resolution) . Apparently, Amazon.com was selling a book that was said to have been written by Wright and a man named Tim Suttle, but when Bird contacted Wright about the book it was discovered that Wright had not written it, nor did he know Suttle. Several of us commented on Suttle’s blog letting him know he needed to explain himself, because there was some confusion, and I sent him a message via Twitter, but he didn’t respond to me.
Personally, I was surprised that any publisher would try to sell a book with a man’s name on the cover who had nothing to do with the composition of the book. Similarly, I was a surprised that Amazon.com had made it available (I sent a message to Amazon.com informing them that their information was incorrect, since the book was listed on Wright’s author page). Though I knew it was quite possible that someone could try to play a trick like this one, and though I don’t know Suttle, I wanted to belief this was a mistake and not a scam (which I explained in Using an author’s name without their permission).
It was a mistake.
Suttle wrote a blog post today explaining the situation and though the publisher goofed it does not appear that Suttle was doing anything malicious. In N.T. Wright and Breaking Beautiful he explains that the Work of the People videos were purchased by the publisher who in turn asked if he would write something to accompany it. Suttle wasn’t aiming to deceive. I believe him. I think this was an oversight on his part. Suttle wanted to help make Wright’s writings more available for a general audience because Wright has been influential for him. I applaud this motivation and I do hope that Suttle has the opportunity to do that very thing.
Now, let’s be clear, this doesn’t excuse the publisher for using Wright’s name. That is a bad, bad idea. It comes across as very deceptive and while it may be easy to belief that Suttle wasn’t doing anything wrong on purpose it is hard for me to belief that the publisher didn’t know this was misleading.