Update: An Exercise in Irrelevancy


Thanks to one of my valued readers, the latest sales figures for recent memoirs by both Tommy Mottola and Clive Davis reveal how little it takes to become a New York Times bestselling author.

Tommy’s Hitmaker entered at Number 3 on the NY Times list last month with sales for the previous week totaling 11,285. The following week Hitmaker fell completely off the list. It sold only 655 copies. It gets worse from there. In four weeks on the market Tommy has racked up sales of 12,601 copies. Not impressive for a bestselling author.

Amazingly Clive’s book, The Soundtrack of My Life, entered the NY Times list at Number 2 (I’m sure he was pissed that it wasn’t Number 1) last week with first week sales totaling 11,348, just 63 more copies sold than Hitmaker. Of course we won’t know if Clive’s book will follow the arc of Hitmaker, but it would be a pretty good bet that it will.

As you remember, I recently wrote about how easy it is these days to become a New York Times bestselling author. A week later Jeffrey Tractenberg wrote a terrific piece addressing the phenomenon in the Wall St. Journal titled The Mystery of the Book Sales Spike: How Are Some Authors Landing On Best-Seller Lists? They’re Buying Their Way. The piece features a marketing firm named ResultSource that essentially allows an author or publisher to buy their book onto the bestseller list.

In Tommy and Clive’s case, what this tells us is that in a nation of 300 million people, only about 12,000 give a shit about these guys, and the only reason Mottola has that much interest is because he was married to Mariah Cary. So what we have here is an example of how easy it is to hit the New York Times Bestseller list, thus signaling its growing irrelevancy, the further irrelevancy of the dying music business and the total irrelevancy of Tommy and Clive in particular. As one real bestselling author told me, “It’s the perfect trifecta”.

I’ll keep you posted on Clive’s future sales. Yippee.


Wayne provides biting, hard edged, entertaining, humorous, sometime satiric but always provocative commentary on current events and trends in the music industry.

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