In the last 24 hours, a mystery book known only as “4C Untitled Flatiron Nonfiction Summer 2023” by a yet-to-be-announced author went viral after fans of global pop star Taylor Swift deduced that it was a memoir by her.
The mystery book from Flatiron, an imprint of publisher Macmillan, is available for pre-order for US $ 45 and has been hovering in the top 10 of the Amazon book sales chart, rising as high as No. 2. It is also currently No. 1 on Barnes & Noble’s pre-orders chart as thousands of fans rushed to pre-order the book without any verification or confirmations from the singer herself.
But it seems their efforts were all in vain, as Variety puts it – Swift is very likely not the author behind the book. It’s doubtful that she’s gearing up to release a memoir right in the middle of a national stadium tour while she has another album on the way.
So, how did we come to this conclusion? The singer is notorious for sprinkling clues of her upcoming endeavours in her current pieces of work – so ‘Swifties’ are always scrambling to figure out new easter eggs and clues to latch on to, even if they’re not really there. Throughout her career, the folklore singer has teased fans a lot through Instagram captions, referencing unreleased albums, so it’s not a surprise that fans caught a few apparent clues and ran with it.
The conspiracy arose when a mystery book publication from Flatiron Books began appearing on booksellers’ pre-order lists with extremely limited information. A widely circulated document on social media that apparently was from Flatiron says that they will reveal the title and author on June 13, while the number of pages in the book will be 544. Swift’s fans noted that 5 + 4 + 4 = 13. It’s pretty common knowledge among swifties that 13 is the singer’s lucky number.
Fans also immediately picked up on the release date of the book, July 9 — which you can also hear in a lyric of her song Last Kiss, a track on her third album, Speak Now. Coincidentally, Swift will re-release that album on July 7, as part of her “Taylor’s Version”. To top it all off, while announcing her re-release for Speak Now in an Instagram post, she addressed her fans as ‘dear readers’ which also apparently ticked off their alarms.
It’s still unclear who the real author behind the book is, but it’s certainly not Taylor Swift. The description of the book originally shared on Reddit says that a million copies will be printed, adding that it is a “fun, and not political” book. So it’s clear that it is a celebrity, and high-profile enough to justify a million-copy pressing. Some people are also speculating that it could be BTS, whose members are on hiatus right now and completing their mandatory military service in the South Korean army – they won’t be back together as a group until 2025 at least so a memoir would be perfect to keep fans fed until then.
Regardless of the scant detail, the hashtag #TaylorSwiftBook has more than one million views, as fans share their theories and excitement over a book they know nothing about.
What’s the most unhinged thing you’ve done because of Taylor Swift?
I pre-ordered a book I know nothing about on the SLIGHT chance it’s her memoir. pic.twitter.com/hrddfJKu9h
— Tess 🏻✨ERAS TOUR MN (@tessmhanson) May 6, 2023
Some bookstores even offered complete refunds in case the book doesn’t turn out to be the memoir that they think. According to The Guardian, another bookstore in New York announced that they would be cancelling more than 600 preorders for the book after receiving information that it was not by Swift.
While this is definitely a one-of-a-kind incident – we know fans will go miles in support of celebrities. The growing ‘idol industry’ has given way to an entirely new consumer market and artists aren’t simply artists anymore. In 2020, a study by e-commerce aggregator iPrice found that fans of K-pop groups like BTS and Blackpink spend an average of US $ 1,400 on their idols. Even with Taylor Swift, fans are spending thousands of dollars on concert tickets for her Eras tour.
Throughout this entire ‘mystery book’ ordeal, Swift herself has not clarified anything and sales of the book continue to grow. It is very likely that she never had anything to do with it, and that this was either pure coincidence or a very smart marketing move by the publishers. It does highlight a different side of fandom culture – just how far will fans go to support their favourite celebrities?