Book thief who stole over 1,000 manuscripts ‘wanted to cherish them’

The former publishing employee who stole manuscripts of books by Margaret Atwood, Sally Rooney and Ian McEwan said he had a “burning desire” to feel like he was a publishing professional, and had no intention of leaking the books he stole.
Filippo Bernardini pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in New York in January, encompassing the theft of more than 1,000 manuscripts, the Guardian reported.
Bernardini worked as a rights coordinator in London for Simon & Schuster, which has not been implicated in any of his crimes. He impersonated agents and publishers over email to obtain novels and other works from writers and their representatives.
According to The Bookseller, in court papers published last week Bernardini said he never leaked the manuscripts he obtained, but “wanted to keep them closely to my chest and be one of the fewest to cherish them before anyone else, before they ended up in bookshops”.
Detailing how he began his scheme to obtain manuscripts, Bernardini said he saw them being shared “between editors, agents and literary scouts or even with individuals outside the industry”, and wondered why he could also not get them.
Beginning in August 2016, and continuing up to his arrest in New York in January 2022, Bernardini impersonated hundreds of people in the world of publishing by sending emails from fake accounts.
Bernardini wrote that he knew how “egregious, stupid and wrong my actions were” and that he would forever be associated with his crime.
His lawyer Jennifer Brown wrote in a sentencing submission that Bernardini grew up as a lonely, bullied, child in a conservative part of Italy and was comforted by books.
She argued that he had “suffered professional and reputational ruin”, and that being “effectively banned from the publishing industry” was “particularly painful” for him because of “his desire to feel like an industry insider”.
Bernardini will be sentenced on 5 April.


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