Not sure this is playing out on a nationwide basis or not, but here in New England, one of the biggest stories is about Kaavya Viswanathan, a 19-year-old Harvard sophomore whose book is being pulled due to plagiarism. This is huge news for a lot of reasons.
First and foremost, she got a lot of publicity detailing how a 17-year-old girl ended up signing a $500,000 two-book deal with a publisher. All the talk was about how vibrant and different her first book was (it had an initial run of 100,000 copies). The book came out just about a month ago, and immediately signs of plagiarism started popping up. We're not talking about similar situations or characters here; we're talking whole passages lifted from one of four other books (compare it to The Princess Diaries, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings).
The book had so much hype, that the author was even offered a movie deal. But with the book barely on the shelf, her school's own Harvard Crimson newspaper brought about allegations of plagiarism that have led to the unraveling of Kaavya Viswanathan's credibility, writing, success, and now her life at Harvard. Since the report came out, her book has first pulled off shelves with a promise to change the text, then permanently pulled off shelves, and finally her book deal was cancelled (every writing contract has a clause that states the author guarantees that the work is 100% original, thus allowing publishers out of book deals should the author violate and copyrights or trademarks).
Now, as a writer, I can understand how you can end up with ideas that you think are your own, but actually originate at something you read or experienced earlier. Of course in my writing, it's much easier to just cite the source; that approach doesn't work in a novel. What I find completely unbelievable is the statement that this author unintentionally internalized and then wrote out aspects from other books. When you internalize, you internalize ideas, situations, characters, you do not internalize entire passages word-for-word. I can't remember a single sentence from anything I read in the newspaper this morning, but she wants us to believe that she could remember whole sections of other books? Don't think so. Apparently neither does her publisher.
Now, it is entirely possible that someone else changed her original manuscript after it left her hands (see the controversy over the packaging company that owns half the copyright to the book) and that she is now taking the fall for it. It's possible, as I want to believe that no new author wants to put forth anything but 100% effort and honesty into what could make or break their name. I really want to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I'm finding it very hard. It is obvious to me that this case of plagiarism was intentional, and I really hope that it comes out she had nothing to do with it.