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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

BOOKWORM: The Starr Report: A Tale of 2 Cities

A recent front-page story in this newspaper reported the appearance of a Russian paperback, "Klinton Levinski," published by the St. Petersburg publishers Gelikon Plyus.

Containing the complete translation of the Kenneth Starr report, it was appraised as "perhaps the fastest operation in Russian publishing history." But, the author added, "the enterprise appears to have been a total flop," because "Russians, who showed little interest in Monicagate ... seem to have lost all interest in White House passions since the financial crisis hit the country." The paper wrote that "it is already clear [that the publisher Alexander] Zhitinsky will have difficulty selling even the 20,000 copies he printed."

This is correct, though not the whole truth.

Another paperback with similar contents is selling like hotcakes in Moscow and elsewhere in the country. It also has two photos on the cover, but its title is not "Klinton Levinski," but "Monika & Bill" in huge red letters; and instead of "The Starr Report: Full Text" there are only two yellow words: "Love Story."

The price is the same, the ruble equivalent of $1. The subject is the same, the Starr report, although I could not find his name anywhere in the book. The print is twice as large, for easy reading. The report is abridged, and the translation is very rude and has all the popular but nekulturny Russian words that graphically describe the acts in question.

It's a bestseller and a good example of successful marketing.

The book is published in Moscow by Kolokol-Press, which is the second reason for its success. The rivalry between the two Russian capitals is well known, and more often than not everything that originates in St. Petersburg is considered too sophisticated and highbrow. So, having the choice, wholesalers and other booksellers prefer the local "love story" to the alien "full text." Even though I was born and educated in Leningrad myself, I cannot blame them.

On Oct. 27, this paper published another story: "Gay City Guide Struggles to Get Necessary Funds." I would like to inform the reading public that Liga Plyus publishers in St. Petersburg recently published a wonderful 576-page hardcover "Drugoi Peterburg" ("Another St. Petersburg") - a historical guide book about homosexual St. Petersburg from the early 18th century through the 20th century.

The book is for reading (it's not too practical), and its author, under the pseudonym Konstantin Rotikov, presents an impressively large gallery of famous Russian homosexuals who lived in the city and greatly enriched its culture. The initial print-run is 10,000 copies, and the book is on sale in many bookstores here in Moscow for 30 rubles.