Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Wikileaks Book Battle

It seems that running a high-profile whistle-blowing website costs a lot of money, even if you aren't facing charges of sexual misconduct in Sweden on the side. And what better way to raise the funds than a nice book?

As The Bookseller reported on Christmas Eve, the former German spokesman for Wikileaks, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, is working away at a book for the German publishers Ullstein. Rights have been sold to all sorts of places, with the English release scheduled for 15 February. Which means a busy translator will have been working almost simultaneously, as the German version comes out on January 27. According to the report, the book will detail Domscheit-Berg's "disenchantment with the organisation’s lack of transparency, its abandonment of political neutrality, and the increasing concentration of power by Julian Assange". The former spokesman will also be launching a new platform by the name of Openleaks.

Meanwhile, the Guardian confirmed on Boxing Day that Julian Assange, the big bad former boss, will be earning over a million pounds for his own book, money he says he needs to keep the wikileaks site afloat and pay legal costs. I can't quite make out who got the memoir deal first, but I strongly suspect it wasn't Assange - mainly because I've got a feeling there was a top-secret buzz going around the Frankfurt Book Fair about the German title in October. Plus, Assange's manuscript is supposed to be finished in March.

So readers of German will get the first insight, and Domscheit-Berg's Inside Wikileaks will steal a march on Assange's take. Indirectly, then, the staid old world of book publishing will fund two different leak platforms. My favourite part of it all? The fact that the verb leaken is beginning to establish itself in German - surely almost as irritating to the country's notoriously anti-Anglicism CDU politicians as the leaks themselves.

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