Someone at Jamie Oliver's publisher has just made a career changing move. A Friend of mine, who was the second or third or tenth person in the chain just sent me an electronic copy of his new recipe book, "The Naked Chef2". Nice thought you might say, except that someone at the BBC has mistakenly sent an email of the entire contents of Jamie Oliver's new book. Now this person has either made an enormous botch of something, like meaning to send the file next to this one, or maybe sending it to the email list next to the one they used, or maybe they really hate Jamie Oliver or his cooking or their boss. But I'd hate to guess how many sales it has cost. And NO, you can't get a copy from me, though I notice that a publisher was among those forwarding the errant email, tsk.
Update: Its weirder than we thought and I love it
A couple of days after posting this, the Sydney Morning Herald ran a follow-up to say that the whole thing was a hoax, that there is no such book being published and that someone had apparently searched the web for publicly available genuine recipes by Jamie Oliver, pulled them together into a 120 page book and then created a bogus story about why these genuine recipes were being sent round.
Now, is someone trying out a bit of viral marketing? Is it a book design project that escaped? Is this an experiment in social engineering? I'd love to know, but in any case I'm fascinated; it is excellent. Instead of purveying bogus material under a reputable name, instead of purveying genuine material under a bogus name, someone is purveying real material under the real author's name with a bogus back story. The net continues to come up with some of the best of human weirdness.
At the NSW Editors' meeting on Tuesday we talked about what the Naked Chef's publishers should be doing right now and decided that it is rushing out the genuine article and meanwhile tapping in to the existing network of Jamie Oliver fans offering the hard copy version "for a special price" to anyone who has a bogus copy. Someone suggested that some of the recipes have been tampered with which would make a nice follow-up from the publisher offering "the real thing".
If there is one thing people like Tim O'Reilly have shown, people want to do the right thing and giving away free electronic copies does not at all undermine a business model that treats its customers as funbdamentally honest people who actually care about the content of the book.