For $70,000 You Can Buy a Place on the Bestsellers List

RSI helps achieve bestseller status

Scandal! If you have enough money you can BUY your way onto the New York Times bestseller list! Who’d have thought it? Okay, that was sarcasm. According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, marketing consultancy ResultSource (RSI) will even guarantee you a number one spot — provided you’ve got enough cash.

According to a follow-up article on Forbes and ethics aside, RSI apparently buys copies of a particular book in such a way that it counts towards the bestseller goal without upsetting Nielsen’s BookScan data.

For clients willing to pay enough, it will even guarantee a No. 1 spot. It does this by taking bulk sales and breaking them up into more organic-looking individual purchases, defeating safeguards that are supposed to make it impossible to “buy” bestseller status.

It’s not a cheap proposition, and looks like it could cost an author at least $200,000 to get to number one on the NYT’s list. And The Independent makes the point that most of the authors RSI  claims to have helped are in self-help or business areas where the actual number of copies needed to achieve this is relatively low. For an author to achieve this in a fiction category, it’s likely to cost a hell of a lot more. That said, fiction writers are also likely to be poorer, so unable to take advantage of these services.

While I don’t agree with this kind of jiggery-pokery, I can’t say I’m surprised. I am pleased, however, that Amazon has said it won’t do business with RSI any more. Feeling a little manipulated, are we? What do you think? Is this the best course for an author with money to pursue?

Dean Fetzer

News by Dean Fetzer

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for the past 21 years. After a career in graphic design, he started a pub review website in the late 90’s; He left that in 2011 to concentrate on his thriller writing, as well as offering publishing services for authors, poets and artists. When not writing - or in the pub - he can be found in the theatre, live music venues and travelling.

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Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated February 25, 2013 - 8:57pm

I had always assumed stuff like this happened, maybe I was being too cynical if this fairly recent.