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Publishing

Buying your way to a bestseller

Sorry but this is one of those, ‘Oh crap I work in publishing moments’. The Wall Street Journal has outed the methods of a company called ResultSource which promises to deliver you a best-seller so long as you just, well, pay them.

How do they do this? Read the piece and sit back in wonder.

It’s dead simple. They get authors to use their own money to buy a lot of advance copies so the book in question turns up in the lists from day one.

Wow. Who would have thunk it? How real are these sales? Take a look at the graph the WSJ put together below.

Oh no! They’re not real at all. Except the people who paid for these phoney sales can call themselves ‘best-selling authors’ afterwards. Since a number appear to be in the business book sector they can then use the fake plaudits to get well-paid speaking engagements.

As the fixers in this nasty business ResultSource say on their website, ‘Publishing a book builds credibility, but having a Bestseller initiates incredible growth—exponentially increasing the demand for your thought leadership, skyrocketing your speaking itinerary and value.’

Note the capital letter for ‘Bestseller’. Though to be accurate they should surely be writing it as I did just now: in quote marks.

How much does it cost to become a ResultSource ‘bestseller’? One of the company’s customers reveals all in the piece.

Mr. Kaplan purchased about 2,500 books through ResultSource, paying about $22 a book, including shipping, for a total of about $55,000.

Mr. Kaplan says he also paid ResultSource a fee in the range of $20,000 to $30,000.

With 3,000 copies sold in its first week, “Leapfrogging” hit No. 3 on the Journal’s hardcover business best-seller list. It hit No. 1 on BarnesandNoble.com on Aug. 7. By Nielsen BookScan’s count, about 1,000 print copies have been sold in the six months since.

That’s $75K to $85K for a book that in the real world sells naff all. Hope the speaking fees are healthy.

The good news: the piece says Amazon will no longer do business with ResultSource and Nielsen, who produce some of the key book ‘sales’ listings, are looking for ways to stop this nonsense appearing in their figures.

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Travel

Good Italy, Bad Italy on BBC 4

Italy is going to the polls as I write. Can Silvio Berlusconi really make another comeback? Lord I hope not…

If you want to know why I suggest you turn on to BBC 4 at 10 pm on Tuesday to watch Good Italy, Bad Italy: Girlfriend in a Coma. This is an acclaimed documentary on the state of modern Italy fronted by the former Economist editor Bill Emmott. You can read more about the background here.

It’s one of the Sunday Times picks for the day, and includes Gomorrah author Roberto Saviano, Umberto Eco and Mario Monti among the interviewees.

I also have to declare a personal interest: son Tom Hewson wrote the music and played quite a lot of it too.