Jonah Lehrer collaborating with Shlomo Benartzi on book about the digital life



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NEW YORK — Jonah Lehrer, the best-selling author whose career was derailed after he acknowledged fabricating Bob Dylan quotes, is collaborating on a book about virtual life.

Portfolio announced Tuesday that it had acquired "The Digital Mind: How We Think and Behave Differently on Screens," co-written by Lehrer and Shlomo Benartzi. Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House, plans to release the book in May.

"Jonah Lehrer is one of the most gifted nonfiction writers of his generation," Portfolio publisher Adrian Zackheim said in a statement. "No responsible publisher could entirely overlook his past mistakes, but the prospect of working with him was also fantastically appealing."

Lehrer, 33, had been a star in the book and magazine world and a popular speaker, known for making science accessible to the general public. But in 2012, he acknowledged that his best-selling "Imagine: How Creativity Works" included quotes from Dylan that the songwriter never actually said. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pulled the book and months later removed a previous work, "How We Decide," although the publisher declined to say why. Lehrer also resigned from The New Yorker, where several of his blog posts were found to contain material he had used previously.

Benartzi is a professor at UCLA and co-chairman of the Behavioral Decision-Making Group at the university's Anderson School of Management. He said in a statement issued through Portfolio that while Lehrer had made some "serious mistakes," he is "truly gifted."

"I have spent my life studying how people make mistakes," Benartzi said. "Everybody makes them, and I have made more than my share. So I am sympathetic toward people who make mistakes."

Lehrer said in a statement: "I'm deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with Professor Benartzi. He's a great scientist working on a subject of vital importance."

Lehrer has made few public appearances since the scandal broke and is unlikely to change that for the new book. A Portfolio spokesman said Tuesday that Benartzi was expected to do "most or all" of the publicity for "The Digital Mind," since "he's the source of the ideas and research."

Last year, Lehrer reached a deal with Simon & Schuster for a book about love. A draft has been turned in, but a release date has not been set, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster said this week.

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