So, How’s That White People Book Doing?

By Neal Comment

I was talking with some people this morning about that huge advance Stuff White People Like got earlier this year, and we got to wondering if the book was actually doing anything. Well, Portfolio blogger Jeff Bercovici says the early signs are promising: “around 7,000 copies” in the first two weeks, according to Nielsen BookScan, and a spot on an extended NY Times bestseller list.

I’m not convinced that, as Bercovici’s headline suggests, this makes the book a “crossover hit,” since 7,000 copies isn’t even 10 percent of the White People website on its best day, but short of actually conducting a poll asking people who bought the book whether they were fans of the site, heard about it somehow, or discovered the concept when they found the book, it’d be hard to tell.

(Also, one minor quibble: BooSscan doesn’t tally around 70 percent of sales; rather, it tallies sales from approximately 70 percent of the retail outlets where books are sold. While multiplying BookScan numbers by 1.43 is a useful rule of thumb in calculating total sales, it’s not perfectly reliable. Some books play amazingly well at Wal-Mart, some do about what they do at bookstores, and some never get to Wal-Mart at all. I couldn’t hazard a guess as to where White People falls in that spectrum.)