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The Mysterious Figure Stealing Books Before Their Release

Vulture – The Spine Collector “For years, a mysterious figure has been stealing books before their release. Is it espionage? Revenge? Or a complete waste of time?,,,In the spectrum of cyberattacks, this one wasn’t very complex. There was no malicious software or actual hacking involved. Some of the earliest victims used Gmail accounts for work, which were easy and free to spoof. Registering an alternate domain and setting up an email server was only slightly more involved, and the possibilities were endless: t’s became f’s (, q’s replaced g’s (, r’s and n’s cornbined to make m’s ( The domains suggested someone who liked to play with words as much as code. Books became bocks, unless the company was Dutch, in which case boek was Anglicized to book. What did seem sophisticated was the thief’s knowledge of the business. The culprit wrote like someone in publishing, abbreviating to “MS” for manuscript and “WEL” for world English-language rights, while exchanging insider chatter, telling one victim that a publisher was pitching a book as a comp to Pachinko and expressing surprise to another that a novel had recently sold for a shocking amount. The thief sent messages in the wake of announcements on Publishers Marketplace, a subscription website that tracks deals, but they also asked about books that the thief’s marks didn’t even know existed. The mimicry wasn’t always perfect — an assistant at the talent agency WME realized her boss was being impersonated because she would never say “please” or “thank you” — but the impression was good enough…”

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