I came across Emma Stern Publishing, which has the prestigious-sounding address of 107 Fleet Street, London, via a post on Korede Abayomi's Readersbooks.com. This alone was enough to set alarm bells ringing...and the deeper I dug the louder they got.
HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!Emma Stern is an established trade publishing company that delivers excellence.
Staff members have wide and successful experience in publishing and ancillary fields. We have valuable connections with all parts of the book and media industries.
There are seventeen titles in ESP's shop, seven of which are public domain classics. Four books are by Jack Rubin, who unless he's the same Jack Rubin who wrote Harness Racing's Winning Secrets has no internet footprint other than a fulsome testimonial on the ESP site. Stranger still, Mr Rubin appears to be a character in these novels as well as being the author. Three other ESP books are little more than pamphlets (£4.99 for a 28-page paperback). There's some unintentional comedy in ESP's description of their books:
Later in 1916 Robert\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s complete and detailed book about School Improvement will be produced and marketed by Emma Stern Publishing.
Tarzan learns he is heir to the British lordship of Greystoke but the title has been usurped by his brother, who is engaged to marry Jane. In an act of love and enunciation, Tarzan returns to Africa and the apes.
What do all these books have in common? None of them are available to buy or pre-order on Amazon, even though they have publication dates of the 18th or 25th January 2016. So much for ESP being "established". The company's Facebook account dates back to 23rd November 2015.
So who's behind Emma Stern Publishing? Not Emma Stern, evidently. I half-expected the mysterious Jack Rubin to be involved, but I was wrong. A quick trip to Whois Lookup revealed a familiar name - the registrant of ESP's website is Mr Bakht Bedar of Cambridge, the man behind vanity publishers Artemis and Pegasus Elliott Mackenzie. Readers familiar with Bedar's modus operandi will not be surprised to learn that the Fleet Street address is nothing more than a furnished office rented for the purpose of fooling clients into the belief that they're visiting the company's HQ:
And guess who lives at the same Cambridge address as Bakht Bedar...none other than Mohammed Bu-Malik, director of Austin Macauley and Ashwell!