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Julian Assange: #Canongate II

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EDINBURGH (Rixstep) — So far the Scottish trick to publish the world's first unauthorised autobiography seems to have fallen flatter than David Leigh's cryptography expertise or Daniel Domscheit-Berg's cat.

'WikiLeaks supporters rightly boycott Canongate and their stolen/manipulated Assange manuscript. Short term greed doesn't pay', tweeted the WikiLeaks Twitter feed.

And so it would seem. Philip Stone of The Bookseller reports the slipshod unfinished work selling a screaming 644 (six hundred forty four) copies throughout the realm in three days. That's less than 215 copies per day. And that's less than one book sold per Waterstone's outlet, much less per WHSmith outlet, and less than one third book all told. Talk about a turkey.

An interesting twist is that the Grauniad's notorious smear merchant Nick Davies attacked Canongate for publishing the book. The 'operation' was conducted 'amid heavy secrecy to stop the author from seeking an injunction to block publication', reported the disgraced rag. That they then went on to let David Leigh of all boobs review it can hardly be a cause for mirth.

Davies writes a much more straightforward appraisal.

I think the publishers Canongate have behaved very badly. I can't think of any other publisher who has put out an autobiography that has been disowned both by its subject and by its author.

It just stops in the middle of nowhere. Canongate have padded it out to make it look like a full-length book by publishing lots of US cables which are already widely available for free on the Internet.

[You mean just like David Leigh and Luke Harding did in their book for Grauniad Books which has no less than 53 (FIFTY THREE) pages of useless cables already published? Yes that is truly shameful. Too right.]

But worse than that, the section that might be interesting is just riddled with inaccuracy. Anybody who was involved in these events last year will just gasp at the scale of it. Some of the inaccuracy is laugh-out-loud stuff.

[Ah like a Nick Davies smear piece on Assange's visit in Sweden? Got it!]

The US publisher Knopf had hired fact-checkers who had been in touch with lots of people. But Knopf cancelled the book and so their fact-checking never happened. Canongate never even tried.

They hired good lawyers who cut out all the really libellous stuff and then they've pushed it out, on the assumption that gullible readers will fork out for it even if it isn't remotely reliable.

[Wow. Sort of like pushing to release WikiLeaks materials before they're secure and ready? Go get 'em, Nick!]

I fear Julian is right when he says Canongate are guilty of profiteering.

But Davies is right: he might not be a world oenology sophisticate but he's right this time. Not to give undeserved credit, but Canongate's Jamie Byng pulled a really dumb move. And despite all the exclusively smear reviews Canongate are trying to link to, they still can't sell 215 copies per day. The WikiLeaks Twitter feed pegged it.

On the bright side: Julian Assange might be screwed out of a lot of advances. And sales don't look to turn out too great right now. But this is not the autobiography everyone's been waiting for.

That book is yet to be written. And when it is, it's going to fare a lot better.

Postscript: #Canongate Transcripts Published!

Just published at WikiLeaks: the actual correspondence between Julian Assange, his agent Caroline Michel, Canongate producer Nick Davies (no relation) and hatchetman Jamie Byng. Click the link, scroll down, take your time.


My precious!
 - Gollum
My manuscript!
 - Byng
Yeah. Can it possibly be true? It a worry, isn't it? That the rest of the world's media is doing such a bad job that a little group of activists is able to release more of that type of information than the rest of the world press combined.
 - Julian Assange Oxford 2010

See Also
Rixstep Industry Watch: Julian Assange: #Canongate I
Magnetic Times: Christine Assange recalls her Magnetic Island days
The Bookseller: Assange misses chart as September slump continues
WikiLeaks: Statement on the Publishing of the Julian Assange 'Autobiography'

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