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LA Booksellers Too Smart for Prank Callers

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Some of our favorite independent bookstores in LA (Skylight Books, Vroman's, Diesel, Book Soup) have been targeted by scammers claiming to be some of our favorite writers.

Here's how it works: a would-be writer calls a bookstore (impersonating a writer who has a scheduled store appearance in the next few hours or days), complains of car trouble, and asks to have cash wired to them immediately to avert their made-up crisis. These pranksters have impersonated Ray Bradbury, Russell Banks, Nick Hornby and well-known LA litblogger-turned-first-time-novelist Mark Sarvas.

Booksellers in LA admit they've almost taken the bait, because the bookseller-writer relationship is often based on a trust not seen in other store-to-artist situations. Imagine Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody calling Amoeba Records to ask for a spot of cash. No go. They'd know it was a fake. So why are booksellers different? "There is this sense that bookstores have this special relationship with authors, that they help them out."

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While we hate the idea that the fine folks at these bookstores are being interrupted and nearly-duped, we love that they almost give in because they want to help a writer in need. The money quote of the LA Times article sums it up best: "And if it had really been Mark Sarvas I definitely would have done it." And in a pefect circle of literary life in Los Angeles, Sarvas has responded in kind.

Photo by krissi AKA kiki via Flickr