“What if we had the internet write a book?” — Crowdsourced Fake Erotica Soars Up iBookstore Charts

Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

News from the Department of This Is Why We Have the Internet:

I’m not sure where I first saw this–I think it was on MediaBistro–but it’s so amusing that I can’t not talk about it. Say what you will about Fifty Shades of Grey (believe me, I’ve read it, so I know), it has certainly given rise to lively conversations and entertaining bits of creative frivolity. I’ve read and watched a lot of, and this is by far my favorite yet.

When comedians Brian Brushwood and Justin Robert Young of the NSFW Show noticed that erotica–namely Fifty Shades of Grey and books that look like Fifty Shades of Grey–was dominating the iBookstore charts, they decided to see just how discerning (or not) the readers who are begging for more literary dirtybadfun are. Was it possible, they wondered, for a “terribly written book that makes no sense and just has a lot of banging” to win the hearts and minds of unknowing readers? Craving an answer, they asked the internet to write a totally fake erotica book, and they published it. Here’s what happened:


The Diamond Club hit Apple’s virtual shelves on July 29. It was written completely by the internet, and no one had read the whole thing before it went up. But it had 1) a cover that looks like the Fifty Shades series covers, 2) lots and lots of sex, and 3) characters with extremely trendy jobs. (Brushwood and Young haven’t read Fifty Shades, so they had no way of knowing that pretty much nothing in it is actually trendy–I mean, the heroine gets her first email account at the age of 21.)

At this writing, The Diamond Club is in the #4 spot on the iBookstore bestseller chart, just behind the Fifty Shades trilogy and ahead (to the detriment of readers everywhere) of Gillian Flynn’s fantastic blockbuster Gone Girl (which, for the record, is nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey). It has 1440 customer reviews, many of which we can assume are fake (and are from the same fans who helped write the fake book), but some of them are bound to be real, from the sort of unsuspecting readers Brushwood and Young set out to dupe. (If you have a little time to kill, you could do worse than spending a few minutes trying to tell the real reviews from the fake ones.) Just how bad is it? You can find out for yourself for only 99 cents. The Diamond Club is also available at Amazon (where it has cracked the top 100) and Barnes & Noble.

What’s the verdict, readers? Is this a fun poke at the new highs (or lows) of literary ridiculousness, or a disturbing revelation about the current state of reader-hood? And do I have to read The Diamond Club now?