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Bad Publicity is Better Than None . . . And Maybe Better Than Good Publicity?

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Religious scholar and author Reza Aslan was recently interviewed by Fox News about his new non-fiction book, Zealot. Aslan, a Muslim, explores the life of Jesus based on his religious studies of ancient texts, and not, as Fox News assumed, based on a biased Muslim viewpoint. For those who missed the much-talked-about interview, here is the link:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/is-this-the-most-embarrassing-interview-fox-news-has-ever-do

This interview, which most would consider to be “bad publicity” because of the interviewer’s repeated attacks on Aslan’s bias as a Muslim, was aired July 26. Shortly thereafter, his book went from No. 30 on USA Today’s book list to No. 5, proving that any publicity is good publicity and, in some cases, bad publicity is even better as it creates a sensationalism surrounding the book which pulls at the public’s curiosity. Here is the link to USA Today’s article from August 8, a mere two weeks after the interview:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2013/08/05/zealot-jesus-fox-news/2620159/

This reminds me of a similar situation that surrounded Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code once it gained popularity; church members and leaders were outraged at the fictional insinuations made in the book and boycotted it. This sparked a curiosity which led many church members and non-members alike to read it — including me and my family. I find it so interesting that the more a book is banned and hated, the more likely it is that readership will increase, leading me to believe that a book with strong opponents will have better sales than a book with mediocre support.

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2 thoughts on “Bad Publicity is Better Than None . . . And Maybe Better Than Good Publicity?

  1. This also reminds me of the James Frey “A Million Little Pieces” controversy with Oprah. Entire websites were created around the controversy, giving Frey rock star status even though he was publicly ousted by Oprah after she found out his book was mostly fabricated. His writing career turned out okay.

    • Kellie, that is a perfect example! Sales of “A Million Little Pieces” skyrocketed after the Oprah interview, and Frey has gone on to publish other successful novels. Another example that came to mind after I posted this was the first Harry Potter novel (which came out when I was in middle school). Many of my friend’s parents would not let their children read the book because it dealt with “witchcraft,” and that controversy made kids and adults want to read it to see what it was all about. Clearly, the book and subsequent series was a huge success, possibly in part to the “magical” controversy.

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