The Corner

RE: BLOG-POWERED BOOK SALES

Blogger Glenn Greenwald has replied to my post about his book, How Would A Patriot Act? , and its rise to the New York Times bestseller list:

With respect to the question you asked yesterday regarding my book –  “does anyone know how big the bulk orders are and where they might be coming from?” – we asked this same question of the New York Times.  We are not aware of any bulk orders of any kind, certainly not anything resembling the standard tactics of right-wing groups to purchase enormous numbers of Regnery books and sell them at a loss in order to ensure that those books end up on best-seller lists.

No organizations have bought How Would a Patriot Act? in bulk.  The only “bulk orders” which the Times could possibly be referring to is that many of my blog readers purchased numerous copies from Amazon when it was first available for pre-order – 10, 25, and in one case, 100 — in order to distribute to Senators, Representatives, etc.  Although each order counted as only one order for Amazon purposes, my guess is that they reported it to the Times as containing “bulk orders.”  The only other possibility is that a few professors have advised us that they are purchasing the book for use in their curriculum in the Fall, and have purchased between 25-50 books.

Other than that, there are no “bulk orders” that we are aware of.  The manipulation of best-seller lists is a staple of the Right – as I assume you know, books are commonly bought by the thousands and then appear for sale for .99 on right-wing book clubs.  Nothing like that has happened with my book, which I hope you will note.

I will also note that the book appeared last week on the Washington Post’s bestseller list at #10 — which is for area brick-and-mortar stores only — with no notation…

On the issue of bulk orders, and Greenwald’s accusation that conservatives manipulate bestseller lists, I would point to a portion of a New York Times article, published in October 2003, which discussed the paper’s use of a dagger symbol to indicate reports of bulk sales:

It’s true that during its long run on the list this summer, [Ann Coulter’s] book “Treason” appeared with a dagger each week. And though the hardcover edition of “Slander” made the list for 15 weeks last year with no dagger, the paperback edition currently carries the icon, as do two conservative titles on the hardcover list.

But then the liberal Michael Moore’s book “Stupid White Men,” a best seller for 37 weeks last year, bore a dagger on four of those weeks, as did [Jim Hightower’s “Thieves in High Places”] last month.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

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