Tess Hanson has been a Taylor Swift fan since the singer’s self-titled debut album came out in 2006. So it’s no surprise that nearly 20 years later, Hanson decided to spend $47 to preorder an untitled book simply because there is a slim chance that it may be Swift’s memoir.
“Most fans don’t stick with an artist for that long,” says Hanson, who lives in Ohio. “I just decided that she was going to be the person that I looked to for support in my life.”
On Monday, the publisher Flatiron Books kicked off a frenzy of speculation over a potential book release from Swift, announcing a “major nonfiction book this summer, with the title and author to be announced on June 13.” The book, currently called 4C Untitled Flatiron Nonfiction Summer 2023, will be released July 9, Flatiron said, with a significant first printing of 1 million copies. Pre-orders poured in, despite the lack of information about its title and author. By Tuesday, the book ranked eighth on Amazon’s bestsellers list and first on Barnes & Noble’s website, and it was among the week’s most popular books on Bookshop.org.
On Tuesday, Variety reported “for certain” that the book is not a memoir by Swift, although the publication did not cite a source. An owner of a bookstore located in Lakewood, N.Y. recently shared on TikTok that it would be canceling over 600 preorders of the book due to second and third party sources suggesting “this is not a Taylor Swift book.”
There are several theories as to who else besides Swift might have written the book. A post on anonymous entertainment gossip page DeuxMoi suggests the book could be by another musical act. There’s been online buzz that suggests it could be from K-Pop supergroup BTS, in accordance with June 13 being the group’s musical debut date and July 9 being the 10-year-anniversary of the formation of their ‘ARMY’ fanbase.
How the Swift theory was born
Despite doubt being cast upon the theory, there were several reasons why Swifities were speculating that the book could be a Swift memoir: its title and author reveal on June 13th (Swift has very publicly claimed this as her favorite number), its 544-page length (as those three digits add up to13), and Swift’s All Too Well: The Short Film music video showcasing her reading an autobiography. It would also be timed to follow the release of her recently announced Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), due July 7. Flatiron Books did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.
June 13 announcement? July 9 publication? 👀👀 pic.twitter.com/IWZKn1SgpH
— lenika 🌺🥢 (@lenikacruz) May 8, 2023
What’s the most unhinged thing you’ve done because of Taylor Swift?
I pre-ordered a book I know nothing about on the SLIGHT chance it’s her memoir. pic.twitter.com/hrddfJKu9h
— Tess 🏻✨ERAS TOUR MN (@tessmhanson) May 6, 2023
Hanson, 27, has gotten more than just music from Taylor Swift. She met her best friend through the fandom, and has become a part of an online community that stretches into every corner of the internet. And being a dedicated Taylor Swift fan often means shelling out for anything associated with the artist. Hanson has purchased over 10 autographed posters, heaps of merchandise, tens of albums, movie tickets to the 2019 film Cats for Swift’s short cameo, a ticket to her acclaimed Eras Tour, and now a book that only has a slim chance of being hers. Hanson is not alone; the hashtag #TaylorSwiftBook on TikTok, where fans have been theorizing about the release of a book, has nearly 1 million views and counting.
A community primed to search for clues
This is not the first time Swifties have banded together on a sleuthing mission. Swift often leaves Easter eggs within her music videos, song art, and social media posts. “She continuously keeps us guessing. It’s entertaining,” says Hanson.
did i just preorder an untitled book from a mystery author coming out on july 9 based on an edelweiss+ listing and conspiracy theories that it’s a taylor swift memoir? i sure did. a 13 hour audiobook? 544 pages (5+4+4=13). DEAR READER and July 9 in the SNTV announcement? Sold.
— Nic (@njnic23) May 6, 2023
Hanson once watched a livestream for hours from a fan’s phone of a mural being made in Nashville that fans speculated Swift would appear at due to its similarities to imagery on her Instagram. “If she’s not coming this is going to be bad on all of us, but we’ve been worse before,” she tells TIME.
But in that scenario, Hanson and the rest of her Swiftie peers were proven right when the 33-year–old singer appeared. “I thought, ‘Oh my god. We were right about something,’” says Hanson. “It was the first time that our clowning had been vindicated.”
In the likely scenario that the book is not in fact from the country-turned-pop singer, Hanson says she’ll be content with having gotten a new book for her collection. That doesn’t take away from her desperately wanting it to be from Swift. “I’ll be really sad if it’s not Taylor Swift. Until then I’ll be living in my little delusional world.”
But even if it did turn out to be Swift’s book, fans like Hanson won’t be fully satisfied. “I’m going to read it,” she says. ”But then I’ll want more.”