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When rumors started swirling that the pop star was writing a book, Swifties were ready for it. But their hunt for Easter eggs led them to a different global phenomenon: BTS.
For Taylor Swift fans, the clues were everywhere.
There was the fact that the book’s author was scheduled to be revealed on June 13 and that the book would have a 13-hour audio component. The page count was believed to be 544, and 5 plus 4 plus 4 equals 13 — Swift’s favorite number. Then, there was Swift’s announcement on Instagram about the rerecording of her “Speak Now” album that addressed fans with, “Dear reader.”
It didn’t matter that the only official information McMillan Publishers gave about the upcoming book was its stub title: “4C Untitled Flatiron Nonfiction Summer 2023.” Swift fans, known as Swifties, were convinced that the pop star was writing a memoir.
“She drops Easter eggs for her fandom all of the time, I didn’t think it was very far-fetched for all the little clues to line up,” said Michelle Lopez, a social media analyst in Chicago who — like many fans — put her detective hat on over the past week.
After days of rumors and sleuthing, Flatiron Books, an imprint of McMillan, had to come clean. The memoir was not Swift’s, but another global phenomenon’s entirely. On July 9, the publishing house will release “Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS,” an oral history of the K-pop group written by the journalist Myeongseok Kang and some of its members. It will be published in South Korea by Big Hit Music.
Even though it wasn’t Swift’s book, Lopez said, “she was hinting at something.”
The hunt for Easter eggs is part of the fun for Swift fans, who know all too well that she will tease future albums and projects through lyrics, music videos, social media posts and even jewelry and nail polish. So the idea that the 33-year-old singer and songwriter would tease a memoir was not out of the question. But as Swift embarks on her Eras tour, referencing all 10 of her studio albums after a period of being out of the public eye, Lopez said fans are looking for more clues than ever.
And the number 13 wasn’t the only clue. The July 9 book release date also fueled the rumor, Lopez said. The date falls on a Sunday, which is not when books are traditionally released (publication days are usually Tuesdays), and it is mentioned in her song, “Last Kiss.” In her Instagram post announcing the rerelease of “Speak Now,” she said it “will be out July 7 (just in time for July 9th, iykyk)” using the acronym for “if you know you know.”
The flurry of speculation helped to drive the mystery book to the top of the Barnes & Noble and Amazon best-seller lists, as preorders rolled in.
“She plans things out so meticulously,” Ms. Lopez said. “There was a lot of evidence that it could have been her.”
Bob Lingle, owner of Good Neighbor Bookstore in Lakewood, N.Y., thought it could have been her, too. Lingle and other booksellers received a notice from Flatiron that an unnamed book with an unnamed author was expected to have a first print run of 1 million copies. The author’s identity was supposed to be revealed on June 13, and the publishing date would be July 9.
He had one guess of who it could be: Swift. Lingle posted on the bookstore’s TikTok page saying as much and promised to offer full refunds if he was wrong. Swift fans rushed to buy it. Flatiron asked Lingle to take the post down, and he obliged, but not before he had received more than 600 pre-orders for the mystery book, all of which he has canceled.
“I do apologize to the BTS fans base because it was meant to be a surprise to them, so quite a few people are upset with me about that,” Lingle said. “This is just a really unique situation that I never want to have to experience again.”
Still, there were rumors about Swift writing a book even before Flatiron’s vague announcement, said Ginnie Low, who has uncovered Swift’s Easter eggs before on TikTok. Low pointed to Swift’s 10-minute short film accompanying her song “All Too Well,” which ends with Swift playing an author.
“It’s become something really special between her and her fans — fans are searching for them and she loves communicating with them in that way,” Low said. “It’s become a secret language.”
If Swift does release a memoir, Low said, there’s little doubt that she’ll mastermind an elaborate trail of crumbs and that Swifties will be on the case.
“When we’re wrong, the best thing we can do is enjoy the joy of hunting and getting to communicate with our favorite artist in this way,” she said. “Just because you’re wrong once, doesn’t mean you’re wrong forever.”