Monday, February 02, 2009

When you think you had it first

Publisher's Weekly recently launched a column about food and cooking titles called "Cooking The Books." That's such a great title, I wish I'd thought of it! Wait... I did. A few years ago. I wrote two columns with that title on cookbook publishing for Foodservice Monthly, a terrific mid-Atlantic publication edited by a dedicated Washington foodie, photographer and editor Michael Birchenall.

So did PW steal my title? It's tempting to think so, but probably not. In reality, people often think up the same titles, and even the same concepts; it happens all the time. It's part of the principle behind zeitgeist. Most of us consume a surprisingly similar porridge of popular culture, both low and high, in varying amounts, and because of this disparate people are bound to make the same mental connections simultaneously. That's part of why so many Hollywood "he stole my screenplay" legal fights aren't always open and shut. Many people may have a similar idea for -- say -- a romantic comedy, simply because we've all ingested the same formulas for so long. Think back to the Restoration stage, and how similar many of the comedies can seem.

But I still admit it grates (joke!) a little.

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