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Helping the economy

I’m worried that Zizek and Theology needs a government bailout. I remember those happy days when it first became available on Amazon — even during preorder, it was hovering around a sales rank of 100,000. When it came out in the US, there were a couple joyous months when it could even get up to 30,000. Then came Christmas. Suddenly I was down to 500,000. I figured it was because the Christmas season had led to a glut of people buying “regular” books, but the pagerank never really recovered. Now it’s been losing around 10-20,000 a day, putting me on a slow decline to 1,000,000+ — Amazon oblivion.

Surely Amazon oblivion is the fate of nearly every academic book. It was foolish and vain of me to check my Amazon pagerank in the first place, much less so frequently. And why should I be rooting for Amazon to be selling so many copies of my book anyway, when they have policies that are so disadvantageous to publishers? Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Yet I still hope that the Treasury Department will use its TARP powers to buy up piles of Zizek and Theology alongside its collateralized debt obligations. Such programs have long kept the right-wing publishing industry afloat, and now that we’ve apparently elected a dangerous Islamic socialist as president, is it too much to ask that the government would subsidize the study of an important left-wing thinker? Especially one who is currently the leading candidate for Secretary of Culture!

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January 21, 2009 - Posted by | Zizek and Theology

12 Comments

  1. Hey, my book (published in 1997) is now below 2,000,000; I’m the one who really needs a bailout. Get in line, fella.

    Comment by abb1 | January 21, 2009

  2. I was surprised (no offense) when I found three copies of the book at Moe’s in Berkeley. I bought mine from Amazon.com back then.

    I wonder if part of the reason sales were high for a while is because emerging church thinker Peter Rollins (http://peterrollins.net/blog/) had it posted on his website under “Current Reading” and plugged it a few times. I am sure his blog gets a lot of traffic and lots of people look up to him.

    Comment by Colin McEnroe | January 21, 2009

  3. Sorry, back then refers to when it first came out on Amazon.

    Comment by Colin McEnroe | January 21, 2009

  4. I hadn’t heard of Peter Rollins, but I appreciate his support. Zizek and Theology is still perched tenuously at the bottom of his “recently read” list, which is perhaps part of what’s slowing my descent. Yet this goes to show that there’s a limit to what any one private citizen can do in the face of a systemic decline in my book’s sales — at some point, government intervention becomes the only option.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | January 21, 2009

  5. Colin, your Amazon purchase is responsible for the eventual downfall of independent sellers everywhere.

    Unless you bought it through Adam’s link, in which case you’re forgiven.

    Comment by bitchphd | January 21, 2009

  6. Maybe you should ask people to post reviews, then people won’t feel like no one has read it. I’ll write a good one and post it up soon; I liked the book. It helped me, a physics undergraduate (basically a hobbyist when it comes to humanities in general), understand what motivates Zizek’s theological writing. Perhaps a more academic engagement would be helpful.

    Ultimately you are right, of course, Z&T isn’t the Twilight Saga or whatever that series is called. I don’t suppose it was written to be a best-seller. Maybe it is time for another?

    If our dangerous Islamic Marxist president is giving bailouts to anyone, it isn’t going to be some Zionist like Zizek, anyway. Or wait, I just remembered that Kirsch wrote down all of the proof-texts showing that Zizek is an anti-Semite.

    Comment by Colin McEnroe | January 21, 2009

  7. I did once make a call for people to write reviews on Amazon. None did. (Brad attempted to, but Amazon somehow ate his review and he gave up.) Reviews on blogs are probably more influential.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | January 21, 2009

  8. bitchphd,

    I blame Amazon. Don’t subjectivize my violence, it is clearly systemic.

    Comment by Colin McEnroe | January 21, 2009

  9. hmmm, any chance there’s an audiobook version I could illegally download?

    Comment by Luke | January 21, 2009

  10. Seriously Adam, I’m curious: are you getting royalties from each copy sold? I remember when I published my (computer) book they gave me some (not much at all) money up-front and then in the contract there was some absurdly high threshold of sales below which I wasn’t entitled to any royalties; this threshold has never been reached, far as I know. Also, somehow in the contract the publisher had the right to sell it to other publishers abroad (I don’t remember the details); the book was translated into French and Chinese and sold there and I got zilch. Is it really possible to make any money by writing books, unless you’re Steven King or some such?

    Comment by abb1 | January 22, 2009

  11. I got an advance and get a certain percentage of sales. I won’t see any more money until I make back the advance, but I think I’m getting close to that level. I need to reread the contract to see exactly what would happen if it were translated (seems unlikely), but I don’t remember thinking it was unfair when I initially read it. Sounds like your publisher shafted you.

    But no, I personally am not likely to make any appreciable money from writing.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | January 22, 2009

  12. Yeah, but of course I didn’t do it for money, but out of pure vanity.

    Comment by abb1 | January 22, 2009


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