Written by Peter Kick, Discover the Adirondacks covers twenty-six hikes, thirteen canoe trips, and eleven bike rides throughout the Adirondack Park, with accompanying maps and black-and-white photos. It also includes a number of short essays on natural and human history. It sells for $18.95.
With any book like this, of course, you can and often do quibble with the author’s choices. Did he really need to include Mount Jo and Cascade, which already see tons of traffic? Why didn’t he include any paddling options in the High Peaks Region—such as Henderson Lake and the Chubb River?
But Bill Ingersoll’s beef is with the book’s title.
As many Adirondack hikers know, Ingersoll publishes the Discover the Adirondacks guidebooks, an eleven-volume series begun by Barbara McMartin in the 1980s. Each book has Discover in its title: Discover the Eastern Adirondacks, Discover the Central Adirondacks, etc.
Ingersoll wrote a letter to AMC complaining about the title, according to Becky Fullerton, a spokeswoman for the club.
The U.S. Copyright Office says an author cannot copyright a book’s title. We asked Ingersoll about this in an e-mail.
“I have no comment on this matter, except to point out that this is not a matter of copyright, but rather trademark infringement,” he replied.
Our online research suggests that book titles rarely enjoy trademark protection, but series titles often do. The following is from the website of Lloyd J. Jassin, an attorney who specializes in copyright and trademark law: “Generally, titles of works that are part of an ongoing series are protected under trademark and unfair competition law. Once a series title such as Chicken Soup for the Soul becomes identified in the public’s mind with a particular author or publisher, unfair competition law kicks in to protect against consumer confusion.”
Fullerton said the Adirondack book is one in the club’s own series of Discover books, dating back to the publication of Discover Acadia National Park in 2000. Other titles include Discover Martha’s Vineyard and Discover Rhode Island.
AMC Publisher Heather Stephenson said the club was aware of Ingersoll’s series, but decided “it just made sense” to include the new book in its own Discover series. She believes there is room for both AMC’s and Ingersoll’s books in the market.
“We’re sharing the common goal of getting people outdoors and enjoying the Adirondacks,” she said.