As a follow-up to the section in last month’s Newsletter on Mark Driscoll, the pastor of the Mars Hill megachurch in Seattle and his using Result Source to provide grossly distorted “real” sales figures, as I thought about this further another issue came to mind. According to what was documented by various sources, the church’s administration authorized buying 6,000 copies in bulk and then provided the names of 5,000 members of the congregation who then “purchased” 5,000 additional units. This begs the question, why didn’t the church hierarchy ask these 5,000 acolytes to each buy two books instead of one? Granted, the marketing team at the church might have needed to use a boiler-room approach to encourage a friend or other family member of many in the congregation to “come on board,” but I can see this happening. And, as such, the good pastor wouldn’t be subjected to what in my opinion is justifiable scorn for gaming the system.
For those of us old enough to remember, a guy named Lafayette Hubbard had his acolytes buy his books, return them to the bookstores, and repeat the process over and over (I know, what I wrote is tautology, but this purchasing cycle occurred a lot and I don’t know how better to make my point). In those days there wasn’t a very good system in place to document returns, and L. Ron’s DIANETICS was listed as a runaway bestseller (as were other books under this handle). How many copies were really sold is anyone’s guess, but the good pastor in Seattle surely could’ve figured out a better way to pump up his sales than what was reported. All he has to do if get in touch with whomever is hot on the self-help circuit, as likely some of these folks have found Result Source the source for paving the road to feel-good riches. Follow the Result Source business plan, however deep someone wants to go into the five figures, and this will land his or her book on many if not most major bestseller lists. And while there are some bulk-distribution algorithms in place, it appears that publishing success is still just a check card away. Very sad for those of us who work really hard to do the right thing by our own actions as well as for our clients.