Alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos lost his tech editor’s job at Breitbart News as well as his book contract with Simon & Schuster after an interview emerged in which he minimized pedophilia. Having self-published his memoir Dangerous anyway, now Yiannopoulos is straining to call his low sales figures “fake news.”
Nielsen Bookscan, a company which monitors book sales for the publishing industry, says that Yiannopoulos has sold just 18,268 copies of Dangerous in the United States since it hit the shelves on July 4th. Worse, the book has only sold 152 copies in the United Kingdom, where Yiannopoulos was born.
Those numbers are far lower than statements made upon the book’s release, when Yiannopoulos’s PR hands claimed that 100,000 copies had sold through Amazon alone.
While Nielsen Bookscan does not include ebook sales, managing director Andre Breedt tells the Guardian that “As our sales include Amazon sales [the total figure] is unlikely to be higher.”
Never one to admit defeat, Yiannopoulos now insists that the previous figure includes bulk purchases by wholesalers. “By now, you may have heard reports claiming we only sold 18,000 copies of Dangerous and that our 100,000 copies claim is exaggerated. I’m happy to report that this is fake news,” Yiannopoulos says in a statement.
“It’s true that the major booksellers only managed to ship out 18,000 copies to retail customers by the list cutoff. But that’s because they didn’t order enough ahead of time, and have been scrambling to play catchup ever since.”
“The real news is that we’ve received wholesale orders and direct orders of such magnitude that our entire stock of 105,000 books is already accounted for,” Yiannopoulos claims.
It’s an explanation that makes no sense to anyone who understands the book industry. Conveniently, Nielsen does not track wholesale orders because the merchants usually return unsold copies in a matter of weeks or months, making it impossible to know whether a book is succeeding by that route.
“Yiannopoulos may have shipped 105,000 hardcover copies of the book, but that’s not the same as having sold them,” writes science fiction novelist John Scalzi, who notes that it was unwise to inflate his sales numbers.
“Had Yiannopoulos been smart, he wouldn’t have alleged selling 100K books in his first week at all, he simply would have taken those USA Today and NYT list rankings and waved them about happily, and built PR around those.”
Indeed, sales for the book started out fairly high, but seem to have tanked rather quickly. “Dangerous reached No 1 on Amazon on the day of its release but had dropped to fifth spot in the nonfiction charts and No 52 overall by Thursday 6 July,” Danuta Kean reports at the Guardian. “On Apple BookStore, the book has now fallen to No 100 overall after entering at No 20.”
Known for roiling college campuses with hate speech, Yiannopoulos lost his book contract shortly after critics publicized a web video of the “alt-lite” star defending sexual relationships between adult men and 13 year-old boys.
Yiannopoulos maintains that the clip was “selectively edited,” and filed a lawsuit in New York City this week alleging that Simon & Schuster is “silencing conservatives and libertarians” by refusing to publish his memoir. Legal experts do not expect him to prevail.
The wealthy Mercer family, which backed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, is also responsible for backing his campus tour and may very well have plans to distribute copies of the book through other channels. Such arrangements, which inflate the cultural cachet of weak authors and promote ideas that would never sell on their own, are not uncommon in conservative politics.
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