Since Amazon eclipsed the bookstore, fake online book reviews have become ubiquitous. Eksmo, a publishing company in Moscow, however, has taken it a step further — it included fake quotes from fake newspapers on the cover of a "Swedish" crime novel released this summer.
Touted as a cross between The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Fifty Shades of Grey, Tsvet Boli Krasny, or Red is the Color of Pain, has been selling well in Russia. There's no indication, however, that the novel was written in Sweden or ever translated from Swedish. Moscow News reports that the novel was written under a pen name, "Eva Hansen," and that the two quotes appearing on the book jacket come from Swedish newspapers that don't exist:
"It's dependent on readers who don't know too much about the country in question, and aren't going to check," [Marie] Pankevich [of the Russian publishing house Amfora] said.
With a hugely popular crime genre and language that's not widely spoken, Sweden is ripe for the scam. String together a newspaper title in Swedish — say, "Svensk Nyheter," or "Swedish News" — and odds are Russian readers won't know the difference.
The head of Yauza, the imprint of Eksmo that published the novel, admitted to using fake reviews: "Advertising is advertising. A lot of books are printed with slogans claiming they had a certain rank on The New York Times Bestseller List, and no one checks whether it's true." Okay.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.