Cyber mercenary Assange had received an advance for the book, he said, though he declined to reveal how much. So much for ‘transparency’. So much for ‘free’ information…
Three “cutting-edge thinkers and activists from the frontline of the battle for cyberspace” are listed as co-authors: US-based Jacob Applebaum, Jeremie Zimmermann from France and German Andy Müller-Maguhn.
The text is largely based on a transcript of an interview Assange conducted with the three others for an episode of his TV show, The World Tomorrow, broadcast in June on the Russian state-funded channel RT, Zimmermann told the Guardian. But he said there would be “plenty of added content”.
“We covered a wide range of issues: from surveillance to data protection, from corporate influence over politics to citizen participation and action, transparency and accountability, from liberalism to anarchism, from copyright enforcement to culture, from flying killing robots (drones) to representation of crime scenes depicting abuse of children (child porn),” he added in an email.
Zimmermann, the co-founder and spokesman for the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net, said he had insisted on a bottle of whisky and some cigars during the interview, “to make the discussion more fluid, cosy and friendly”.
The announcement comes a year after the publication of Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography, which was issued by the publishers Canongate against the Australian’s wishes after he withdrew from his contract but failed to return his advance.
Last week Canongate blamed the collapse of its deal with Assange, reportedly worth a total of £930,000, for operating losses of £368,000 last year. The published book, based on an early draft manuscript, was a dramatic flop, selling only 644 copies in its first week of release.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Canongate Books, Sir Christopher Bland, said the British publisher’s 2011 loss of £368,367 was ”largely attributable to Julian Assange’s failure to deliver the book he had contracted to produce, and we were unable to obtain repayment from him of Canongate’s substantial advance, which had to be written off”, according to the BBC’s website.
An advance of more than £500,000 was reportedly paid to Assange to write a book that was part-memoir, part-manifesto, but he backed out of the deal after sitting with the ghost writer, the Scottish novelist Andrew O’Hagan, for more than 50 hours of taped interviews.
In the past, publishers have taken celebrities such as MC Hammer, Sean ”P. Diddy” Combs and Joan Collins to court to recover an advance for a book they say was never delivered.
But the publishing director of HarperCollins, Shona Martyn, said litigation was an unusual course of action. She said publishers preferred to resolve issues about non-delivery and advance repayment through one-on-one discussions with authors or their agents.
However, Ms Martyn said an advance was a loan against future earnings of a book, not a grant.
”In Australia we are not as exposed to very large advances as US publishers, however we do expect authors who sign a contract and take an advance to deliver what they have promised,” she said.
”If an author finds a book is taking longer than expected, the industry standard is to negotiate a new delivery date.”