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Ex-news editor shares shock as online sellers ‘cash in’ on her book about murder

Catherine SmythA former news editor has shared her shock at online sellers’ attempts to “cash in” on a book she wrote after a Coronation Street storyline prompted a surge in its popularity.

Catherine Smyth, who used to run the newsdesk at the Rossendale Free Press, has discovered people trying to sell on her book Weirdo Mosher Freak for upwards of £250 online.

The book, which Catherine wrote after taking redundancy from the Free Press in 2009, is about the 2007 murder of Sophie Lancaster in an attack motivated by her enjoyment of gothic fashion.

Interest in the book has been revived owing to a recent storyline on the ITV soap which is inspired by Ms Lancaster’s story.

Since publicity about the storyline, Catherine has personally sold 120 copies of the 2010 book and nearly 60 Kindle 2020 editions.

But she told the Lancashire Telegraph: “I sell brand new personally signed copies of the 2010 book through eBay, Amazon and Facebook Marketplace and the price I sell them for has not changed since the storyline.

“However, there are now five sellers Amazon asking for up to £257.99 plus post and packaging for second hand versions of the ‘white cover’ The Sophie Lancaster Story.

“Apart from an extra chapter, it is identical to the 2010 book I am selling for £4.50 on eBay. Another online retailer was selling second hand copies of the 2010 version for £30.

“When I worked at the Free Press, I was involved in raising money for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation through the manufacture and sale of ribbons and a band gig in Bacup.

“A key part of writing Weirdo Mosher Freak was to raise awareness and funds for the foundation and so far £2,209 from book sales has been presented to the charity set up by [Ms Lancaster’s mother] Sylvia. I would be very surprised if any of these retailers were contributing to the charity.”

The original version of the book, published in 2010, sold more than 1,000 copies locally, around 1,700 nationally and was rebranded in 2016 by an American true crime publisher.

Catherine, 54, said: “I don’t watch Coronation Street, but when I read that the attack on Nina and Seb was going to mirror what happened to Sophie and her boyfriend Robert Maltby in August 2007, I had to watch it.

“I found myself unable to take my eyes off the screen; it brought to life what I had only read in transcripts and heard in a courtroom.

“Although there were obvious changes in the storyline, by working with Sophie’s mum Sylvia, I felt the scriptwriters captured the essence of what happened in 2007 and Nina was hauntingly similar to Sophie in appearance.

“It also sparked a renewed interest in the book as people wanted to learn more.”

She added: “I would like to thank everyone who has bought a copy and at the end of this year a further donation will be made from sales.

“One lady even paid £50 because she knew every penny over and above the cost of the book and postage would go straight to the foundation.”