It's often said that no publicity is bad publicity. Notoriety attracts attention and attention, whether positive or negative, sells books. But in Viswanathan's case, some mistakes just can't be publicized away.
Harvard Crimson reports that the publisher of "Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" are now asking stores to return all unsold versions of the book.
I think they are doing the right thing. Opal Mehta is no Da Vinci code. Da Vinci's author was said to have stolen the "architecture" of his book from Holy Blood, Holy Grail. A judge later on tossed this allegation out of the window. The judge ruled that Dan Brown did not use "all the same historical conjectures" espoused in Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
This is precisely why I'm saying there's no parallel between Opal Mehta and Da Vinci. The plagiarism involved in Opal Mehta was not abstract. It involved more than a very close thematic similarity. Opal Mehta liberally borrowed phrases, sentences, and paragraphs from two books by Megan McCafferty. Worse, these phrases, sentences, and paragraphs were changed craftily to make them less google-able.
If the publishers allow Opal Mehta to continue making the rounds in thousands of bookstores worldwide, they would only make itself vulnerable to lawsuits and snubs. They may not have written the book themselves but they did distribute it.
In some people's eyes, that makes them equally culpable.
Many people believe that Kaavya Viswanathan's writing career is officially over. I don't. It's possible that all the attention has done what her book hasn't – cemented her spot in the literary world. After all, people are going to be following what she does during and after this controvery. Would she write that second book or would she give up writing altogether? Perhaps, she would simply write about her ordeal. If Stephen Glass' story made it to the big screen, why shouldn't hers? After all, no material is ever too sacred or dirty for moviemakers to touch. In the grand scheme of moviemaking morals, a teenager plagiarizing isn't as big a deal as a serial killer chainsawing his way through a town.