A whole legion of young Jobs fans in Taiwan have read a book that he never wrote
Even as his health causes him to diminish his role in Apple, the Taiwanese just can't seem to get enough of Steve Jobs – either in person or in the doppelganger department.
Readers will remember a column I wrote earlier about a TV ad campaign in Taiwan that used an American expat named Brook Hall to play Jobs in a very convincing ''press conference'' at a Hsinchu Science Park setting.
That ad campaign was a real ad campaign and completely above board.
But now some disreputable punters in Taipei have drilled down a bit by publishing a bestseller in Chinese Mandarin — purported to be a ''translation'' of an Amazon besteller from the USA — titled, get this: "Steve Paul Jobs's Eleven Pieces of Advice for Young People Today." It's a bestseller in Taiwan.
The alleged author is a chap named "John Cage", who of course does not exist, and the publishers are keeping mum about who the actual "ghostwriter" is and even who the real publisher is. It's Ghost Month in Taiwan now, a month-long religious ritiual in which the ghosts of all ancestors come back to Earth to haunt the island nation and play havoc with the normal rules of daily life, so it's fitting the a fake Jobs book has surfaced now.
It's reached No. 5 on the financial books bestseller lists here, and has reportedly taken in huge amounts of naive readers' cash over the past few months.
John Cage, as readers familiar with modern music will know, was the name of a very eccentric and creative New York composer, and he certainly never wrote the book on Jobs.
About the only thing the fake book got right was that Jobs' middle name is Paul.
The book was purportedly translated into Chinese from its original English version, although no one can trace the original source of the book or find its U.S. counterpart on Amazon. Do you see a ghost here?
The police are now investigating the case, and if the publisher is found guilty of deceiving the public, he could be in for some ghostly jail time.
As for the alleged "John Cage," he is alleged by the publishers to be "a graduate from Stanford University and who previously served as editor in chief at mass-circulation economic and financial magazines." Ghostly.
But nowhere in the entire book does it say when and where ''Jobs'' offered his sharp-witted ''advice'' for young people, as no dates or sources are cited.
Enter Taiwan's version of Sherlock Holmes. An enterprising reporter in Taipei was able to trace the street address of the publisher of the book, and when he went there he found — guess what? — a popular computer store.
The store's owner said the book was genuine and all copyright protections were in place and that the truth of the entire matter will be revealed next month, when Ghost Month is over.
Meanwhile, over 25,000 copies of the book have been sold, and a whole legion of young Jobs fans in Taiwan have read a book that he never wrote. Ghostly.