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In The Fake Factor, McCartney writes perceptively, informatively and amusingly about the complex issues that surround the alarmingly commonplace practice of brand fakery. She guides us down the slippery slope from imitation (the high street fashion industry routinely and overtly reproduce the latest in designer fashion ideas at a price that mere mortals can afford), past apparent designer goods sold openly by tax-paying establishments around the world (who attempt to persuade the bargain-hunting tourist that they are a `factory outlet') and all the way down to the criminal underworld where vast amounts of counterfeited goods are traded, the proceeds from which fund various deeply unpleasant criminal and terrorist activities. In these murkiest of waters are to be found not only the apparently harmless designer label rip-off but also genuinely evil counterfeits such as fake medicines and fake baby milk.

It's a moral issue, says McCartney, and all of these activities are on the same continuum. Even those of us who may sport fake designer goods without the intention of deceiving even the casual passer-by - how ironic! How post-modern! - are guilty of aiding and abetting the theft of intellectual property. The person who creates something new by using their imagination and their skills deserves to reap the rewards of their creativity and not have their ideas stolen from them. This works, the book reminds us, as much for the written word and the recorded song as it does for innovative electronic goods and, yes, even for handbags.

Along the way McCartney explores intelligently what it is that creates a successful brand and makes it, in some cases, so desirable that we will knowingly buy a mere imitation: fake products that have the outward appearance of the brand, but none of the intrinsic qualities that make the brand so desirable. She also examines how a dislocation between the original brand and new products carrying the brand label (Harley Davidson sun glasses?) can open the door to the counterfeiter.

I once bought a fake Tag Heuer watch on New York's Canal Street. It may not even have had the words `Tag Heuer' anywhere on it and, in any case, I am so clearly not the sort of chap who would spend large amounts of money on a trophy watch that my purchase was, as mentioned earlier, ironic and indeed post-modern. How witty was I? The watch fell apart after a year or so - which meant that it had offered good value for the few dollars that it cost. McCartney's book has made me examine this purchase - and millions of other similar purchases made by people around the world every day - with fresh eyes, and a growing sense of unease.
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on 2 December 2005
I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of this book...and I think it's written with knowledge and humour and takes a good look at the branded world we currently live in - I love all the references to the fashion brands and I would equally enjoy reading this book now or in years to come, as it provides a memorable window into the world we (or at least I!!) live in...I'm sure at some point I'll re-read this with a nostalgic glint in my eye...
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on 7 August 2006
Sarah McCartney brings a refreshingly clear approach to a complex subject, in particular the role of brands in creating demand for fakes. Essential reading for those charged with understanding and managing counterfeiting issues. The principles extend well beyond the luxury goods focus and apply to almost all sectors beset by counterfeit contamination.
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on 12 November 2006
This book has a funny title. But it was one of the most engrossing and important books that I have read. For anyone who works in marketing, it offers a fresh perspective on way consumers behave the way they do today.
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on 23 March 2008
I read this book about a year ago and then recently watched a two part documentary on UK TV about the fake industry which reminded me about this book. This is a thought provoking book that will make you think and think again when next on holiday being offered handbags or clothing at ridiculously cheap prices. As for the so-called tax-free goods like cameras and binoculars you get in some holiday hot spots, how many of these are just counterfeits made ins some sweat shop in a developing economy? Read this book, get a conscience!
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on 28 December 2005
I read this book in one sitting. Who would have thought a book about business and branding would have been such a page turner? A great book for an interested amateur like myself, a compulsory text for students studying fashion or business. I felt as if I had sat down with the author and had an enlightening conversation. I value this authors opinion, and this book has helped me re-evaluate and formulate my own.
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on 5 December 2005
I've alawys been rather intrigued by the knock-off and fake goods racket and how it can bring a prestige brand to its knees: Louis Vuitton being one of the most conspicuous. Mind you casting my mind back to 70s pictures of Liz Taylor in her lumpiest incarnation surrounded by a suite of LV luggage was surely as bad for the brand's reputation as is the wholescale chav adoption of Burberry check today. Any way, back to Sarah McCartney's book - The Fake Factor is unsurprisingly readable, given her day job turning out the ever-entertaining Lush Times, but also thought provoking. The interesting thing I've found is, in contrast to the other books out there about the organised crime dimensions to the Fake market, this book made me question buying into brands at all. I'd get a copy and slip it into any over-labeled friend's christmas stocking! No logos, please...
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on 9 June 2007
I was lucky enough to see Sarah McCartney at a lecture at the University of Hertfordshire Business School, and found her a compelling lecturer. I also found her book easy to read with excellent examples and an easy style of writing. My only gripe is the 'American' spellings of words.... But it's great to see another Durham graduate doing so well.
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on 5 December 2005
I was bought this book as a present and didn't think it would be for me at all. However, as a keen shopper I thought I'd take a look. How surprised was I? Well worth a read!
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on 11 August 2010
Very light on meaningful content, repetitive & padded out with endless waffle, unsupported value judgements & personal anecdotes.

By the end of the book I still felt unenlighted as to why anybody would knowingly buy counterfeit goods.

Lightweight.
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