A bunch of fake Kathleen Hanna biographies were released on the same day as her new memoir.

Brittany Allen

May 15, 2024, 12:58pm

Yesterday, the iconic Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hanna published a memoir with Ecco/HarperCollins. And Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk is already being touted as an “electric, searing” history from one of rock’s biggest icons. Unfortunately, the book has some competition. From a nefarious bevy of other Hanna biographies dropping this week, almost all of which appear to be written by AI.

In a pretty-even-keeled-considering Instagram post, Hanna informed fans about the doppelganger books, and asked readers not to buy them. She, however, does plan to snag copies. Mostly out of curiosity re: the robot’s takes on her life.

Here’s a sample fake, from the “author” James Taylor. In a summary blurb, the alleged writer entreats us: “Kindly read painstakingly as we uncover, alot [sic] about Kathleen’s life, her personality, legacy and above all her undying love for her family and lover’s.”

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According to Am*zon, Taylor’s a seasoned biographer. His other subjects include RuPaul, Dolly Parton, Tom Selleck, and Morgan Freeman. But it’s hard to get a sense of the man himself, given that James…does not exist.

Unfortunately, thanks to the poorly regulated pipeline of Kindle Direct Publishing, the opportunistically-timed fake book is nothing new. But Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild, has observed an increase in the trend.

She told NPR this March, “Every new book seems to have some kind of companion book, some book that’s trying to steal sales.” And of course the bigwigs are doing little to stop this.

Authors can file a report to have copyright-infringing copy scrubbed from Am*zon. (And as of this writing, it looks like Hanna or one of her advocates has removed some of the fakesthe elegantly titled Kathleen Hanna Biography Book: Punk Feminist Queen in the Spotlight, and Kathleen Hanna: Breaking Barriers, Breaking Silence are no longer available for purchase.) But unless one is high profile, this process can be byzantine.

There are also loopholes, like the biography noted above. Taylor’s book is still up because 1) KDP does allow AI-generated content, and 2) anyone can technically write and publish a biography.

This all bodes very ill for those of us who like real books written by human beings. But it’s nice to see Hanna pick up a sword for authorsnot least because our “Punk Feminist Queen,” has fought the Terminator before. Last year, she and a host of musicians raised concerns about the biometric palm-scanning technology popping up at Amazon-owned venues.

Spotlight on that, please. And in the meantime, maybe we buy Rebel Girl from our local indie bookstores and Reject All American(-owned e-publishing behemoths)…

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