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2 May, 2023 15:19

Unlicensed Stephen King book goes on sale in Russia

The best-selling American author has stopped working with Russian publishers over the conflict in Ukraine
Unlicensed Stephen King book goes on sale in Russia

The latest book by renowned American horror author Stephen King has gone on sale in Russia. An unlicensed and translated copy of King’s latest dark fantasy novel, ‘Fairy Tale’, has surfaced on several national online marketplaces, the Russian Kommersant business daily reported on Tuesday.

King ceased working with his former publisher in Russia, Eksmo-AST, back in March 2022, soon after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine. The US author has actively supported Kiev in the ongoing conflict and has repeatedly accused Russian forces of killing civilians. “Keep Ukraine in your hearts and thoughts,” he wrote on Twitter in April. “Don’t support appeasers who would leave them behind.”

Now, Eksmo-AST claims it has no legal means of stopping the distribution of unlicensed copies of King’s books since it no longer represents the writer and can’t defend his rights in Russia. “We can do nothing about this situation,” the publisher told Kommersant, adding that it “has no rights on the books and cannot defend a foreign author in court.”

According to Kommersant, the unlicensed books were allegedly printed by the ‘Trophy Book’ publisher based in the Donbass city of Lugansk. The books reportedly lack an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) – a unique commercial code any legally published book should have. The name of the person responsible for the novel’s translation into Russian has also not been revealed, the media outlet reported.

RT managed to find several ads for King’s ‘Fairy Tale’ on the Russian retail website Avito. The book is allegedly being sold in the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg and is priced between 1,300 and 5,000 rubles ($16 and $62). The ads do not feature any information on the publisher.

Both Avito and Yula only provide platforms for private ads. The companies told Kommersant they can only remove the controversial offers if contacted by a copyright holder. “A rights holder has not contacted us in the case of these books,” Avito added.

Russian publishers can only ban the distribution of pirated copies of licensed books, Vladimir Kharitonov, the former head of the Russian Internet Publishers Association, told Kommersant. “There is nothing that can be done about those lacking a license: [the publishers] do not have any commitments to a rights holder” in this case, he added.

King has not commented on the development so far.

The American horror writer was not the only author to stop cooperating with Russian publishers amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. J.K. Rowling, the bestselling author of the ‘Harry Potter’ series, did so as well. Unlicensed copies of her books then appeared on Russian marketplaces as well, Kommersant reported.