Book sales - PARC and others


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Comparative Objectivist book sales against The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics by James Valliant

by Michael Stuart Kelly

PARC

Before I give the story, facts, figures, methods and standards, let me spoil the suspense a little just in case there are people who are in a hurry.

As of August 25, 2006, the following book quantities of PARC have been sold commercially as calculated from Ingram warehouse sales (see below):

  • 2005: A minimum of 750 copies and a maximum of 1,250 copies
  • 2006 (only until August 25): A minimum of 498 copies and a maximum of 830 copies
  • Total: A minimum of 1,248 copies and a maximum of 2,080 copies

There is a very interesting detail. Robert Campbell (and another person) did a consultation at Ingram about PARC on August 17. I did one on August 23, 2006 and sent the results privately to a few people. Our variance was a one book increase, resulting in an increase of 6 to 10 books in the calculation of copies sold. Someone in the meantime, between August 23 and 25, bought 20 books from Ingram. This resulted in an in increase of 120 to 200 books in the calculation. The previous August 23 high-end for 2006 was 1,880 copies sold and now it is 2,080. Although it is doubtful that 200 books were actually sold in the publishing world during those two days, calculating over Ingram’s sales is the standard that I am using, so it is maintained.

There are two points that must be mentioned.

1. PARC is only sold in hardback.

2. There are two numbers provided for ISBN (International Standard Book Number), both for hardback. This implies that the second ISBN represents a revised or modified version.

  • First ISBN: 1-930654-67-1.
  • Second (newer) ISBN: 1-930754-67-1.

As copies of the first ISBN are no longer commercially available (at least, there is no Ingram listing for that number), this indicates a small first edition. As the quantity has not been released by Durban House (the publisher) or the author, and as the copies were both sold and given away (to reviewers, friends, political people and celebrities, libraries and so forth), it is fair to add a few hundred copies to the total minimum-maximum numbers sold. More than that would be a gross exaggeration, given the history of the book’s promotion and indicators like availability in book stores, Amazon sales ranking, etc.

A further note about promotion should be mentioned. PARC is a book that is sold more by word-of-mouth than by advertising and publisher support. The issue involves Objectivist subculture politics and the book is principally an attack on some historic members who are still living (the Brandens). Thus peer pressure to buy the book is constantly exercised by the side the author is on. As new people come in contact with members of that side, they are strongly urged to buy and/or read the book in order to have “proof” that their leaders and organizations are the good guys and the Brandens and supporters are hopelessly evil and spineless. My own belief is that peer pressure is the only thing keeping the sales going and that in the marketplace of ideas, it would fail dismally on its own.

Method of calculation

To give credit where credit is due, Ethan Dawe made a post on another website about a method he encountered on the Internet to calculate the number of books sold in 2006 and 2005 from the number sold from Ingram’s warehouses. It is on the Google Answers site and received a five-star rating. Here is a selective and slightly modified quote from the questions and answers:

Q (“qpet-ga”): Where can I find sales numbers for books?

A (“bobbie7-ga”): You can call Ingram’s “Freddie” line at 615-213-6803. Enter the ISBN and select option #3. You will hear a computer-voice telling you stock status in how many Ingram warehouses; how many were sold this year and last year. In order to calculate the total number of books sold, industry analysts apply a multiplier of between 6 and 10 to the Ingram numbers.

Q (“qpet-ga”): How certain are you about the 6-10 multipliers? Is this a common way to get sales numbers?

A (“bobbie7-ga”): Please take a look at the question “Book Sales Statistics” answered in December by another researcher.

http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd...w&id=133616

This researcher stated that “the standard multiplier used to estimate system-wide sales is 6.” He then checked the multiplier with an author-friend and found out that his agent actually uses a multiplier of 10. Therefore an estimate between 6 and 10 would be a good approximation.

It was mentioned on Google Answers that data on total books sold is available (as a paid service) from Nielsen BookScan, but the link is from 2002 and it is broken.

The method mentioned above is the one I used for all calculations, unless specified otherwise.

The person who gave me the idea of doing this survey was Robert Campbell. As I mentioned, on August 17 he sent me the figures of PARC sales (high-end 1,860), together with corroboration from another person who also made the consultation at Ingram. Then on August 18, he consulted three other books from his library to see if the figures were reasonable (they were):

  • Nick Capaldi, John Stuart Mill, Cambridge University Press hardback—sales over the last two years, 300 to 500 total after multiplying.
  • Tim Wilson, The Adaptive Unconscious, Harvard University Press paperback—sales running 3,000 to 4,000 a year after multiplying for the past two years.
  • Tom Friedman, The World Is Flat, revised edition hardback—sales in 2006 between 300,000 and 470,000 after multiplying; it was published this year so there are no sales from last year.

I started wondering how PARC would stand up against other Objectivist literature. I decided to find out.

The main reason for doing this calculation

There is a characteristic of Objectivist acolytes who adopt a religious view of the philosophy. They wish to maintain a morally unblemished image of Rand at all costs. Their position is that Rand wrote about moral perfection being possible and she led a morally perfect life. To hold otherwise invalidates Rand’s philosophy. (The author of PARC vehemently denies that he is an acolyte, yet his public statements are totally consistent with the non-objective religious approach.)

This leads the acolytes to target people who were next to Rand, personally witnessed events and later publicly reported what they saw, warts and all. Acolytes also target those who get too familiar with Objectivism and report any shortcomings they observe in the philosophy with suggestions for corrections. Acolytes are particularly active and virulent against people who try to present any objective view, those who notice both the good and the bad. (The ones who focus only on the bad do not get too much attention from acolytes; they do not need to be discredited; they are the avowed “enemy” so they can be dismissed.) The idea to acolytes is that if they discredit such people, the “good and bad” views of these people will be seen as baseless by the public and they can resume promoting the “only good/morally perfect” image of Rand and Objectivism. They also extend the same attitude toward acolyte organizations—essentially the orthodoxy.

This was the premise behind the writing of PARC. Valliant stated that he wished to preserve Rand’s reputation, but his focus was actually on discrediting the Brandens. This even influenced his pedantic repetitious style.

Discrediting attacks by acolytes are seen often by their constant invasion of information channels—usually free ones like the Internet—in order to denounce targeted people and promote the orthodox party line. They are few, but they are active.

Why do they do this? The answer is easy. The whole purpose is to give a false impression that a great number of people adhere to their position. Through public image manipulation, they try to “cook the books” so to speak. I could also speculate about their personal motives—that they must hide the truth from themselves because they are afraid to face the fact that they have been lying to themselves, that they are terrified of the unknown, and so forth—but that is outside the scope here.

Anyone who has engaged Valliant on an Internet forum sees this tendency easily. He is consistently slippery about giving direct answers. An exchange with Robert Campbell and Philip Coates recently (in May) on the Rebirth of Reason site is a perfect example.

Philip Coates asked the direct question: “Jim, without an extended discussion, can you tell us how many copies your book [PARC] has sold?”

Valliant answered: “No, I don't have the accurate raw number right now, but it's in excess of other recent nonfiction books about Rand or her philosophy, but nothing like the sales numbers for PAR. Does that help?”

Robert Campbell asked: “Does this mean that your book has outsold Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical?”

Philip Coates said: “Fer Chrissake guys, is this a state secret? Give us a goddamn number...even if it's 'approximate'…”

Valliant backed down: “Thanks for the interest, guys, but I really don't know.”

Robert Campbell did not back down: “Russian Radical sales: Between 12,000 and 13,000 (hardcover and paperback combined).”

Technically speaking, the “I really don't know” comment is a blatant lie in answer to the two questions asked: what were the approximate sales numbers for PARC, and if it outsold Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical by Chris Sciabarra. Valliant was able to compare sales against PAR and “other recent nonfiction books about Rand or her philosophy.” He said so right before his answer. Thus he actually did know an “approximate” number. He then lied to Philip Coates and Robert Campbell about not knowing one.

(Other online interactions with Valliant have been equally frustrating, for me and for many others. He constantly tries to “get off on a technicality” when asked a clear question for simple information or opinion. He uses a number of rhetorical devices for this. A large number of examples can be seen in the online discussions about PARC. Here is a list of links.)

Why would Valliant lie about his knowledge of such a simple factual question in public—being the proponent of moral perfection that he is? He must have been aware that he was not lying just to Coates and Campbell. He was lying to every honest reader who was following the discussion, too. He might think Coates or Campbell were the enemy, so that would explain why he would lie to them, but why would Valliant lie to honest readers? The answer is obvious. He was trying to project a false image of huge PARC sales, thus indirectly increase the book’s own credibility with all readers, honest and otherwise. He was trying to manipulate the thinking of readers by giving them something false to perceive. He was trying to fake reality and sell the bogus version to honest people—and he was trying to do that on purpose.

Well, let’s take the covers off. Let’s look at actual sales figures using a standard that the publishing industry uses. Some of the figures are not favorable to both sides of the issue. That does not matter, though. Facts are facts. Period. No truly objective person runs from them or tries to fake them in public. It is an embarrassment when an Objectivist does that.

Limitations of the figures

Some books with very low figures or zero copies sold, like The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand by David Kelley and Ayn Rand’s Marginalia edited by Robert Mayhew are published by small academic publishers and sold more directly by TAS and ARI respectively than through commercial book outlets. To be fair, I bought a copy of Ayn Rand’s Marginalia this year, yet it is listed as having no copies sold. This was probably because the copy I bought from the retailer was ordered directly from Second Renaissance Books (the publisher) and did not go through a book jobber (a multi-publisher book warehouse, like Ingram, used for filling orders).

Thus the figures here must be thought of as books sold on the standard commercial publishing market only, not specialty presses and outlets.

Some books are used for teaching, thus the number of students in the courses will increase the number of copies sold. Many of such students would not have bought the book otherwise, so this element must be considered in thinking about trends.

Sadly, total book sales are not available (at least I have not found a relatively accessible method of consultation that can be checked by the public). The sales estimations given here are for 2005 and 2006 only. This is the reason the release dates of the books are given. Thus if a book sold 400 copies last year, but was published in 1990, its total sales will probably be fairly high. A good example is Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical by Chris Sciabarra, which was in the 7th printing by 2002 and sold a total of 12,000 to 13,000 copies since 1995. Yet total sales figures for the 2005-2006 period are from 144 to 240 copies.

The figures for 2006 are only up to August 25, 2006 and not for the whole year. Anyone who wishes for full 2006 numbers should do an Ingram check at the end of the year and use the multipliers. Please do not use the numbers given here as full 2006 estimations.

I am giving ISBN's with the book titles. Instructions on how to make an Ingram consultation are given above. Thus, anyone can easily check my figures.

PARC sales in relation to other pertinent books about Rand and/or Objectivism

High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 25, 2006)

PARC (2005): 2,080

OPAR (1991): 1,550

Ominous Parallels (1982): 1,490

MYWAR (1989/1998): 640

PAR (1986): 480

Song of Russia (2004): 320

Ayn Rand Cult (1999): 250

Russian Radical (1995): 240

Contested Legacy (1990/2000): 80

Information used

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff (1991)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-01101-9

Ingram sales: 2006: 70 // 2005: 85

Calculated sales: 2006: 420-700 // 2005: 510-850 // Total: 930-1,550

The Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff (1982)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-01117-5

Ingram sales: 2006: 49 // 2005: 100

Calculated sales: 2006: 294-490 // 2005: 600-1,000 // Total: 894-1,490

Note: There is no Ingram listing for other ISBN's for this book: 0-812-82850-X (hardcover) and 0-451-62210-3 (paperback)

My Years with Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden (1989 as Judgment Day and 1998 as the present title)

ISBN (paperback): 0-787-94513-7

Ingram sales: 2006: 20 // 2005: 44

Calculated sales: 2006: 120-200 // 2005: 264-440 // Total: 384-640

The Passion of Ayn Rand by Barbara Branden (1986)

ISBN (paperback): 0-385-24388-X

Ingram sales: 2006: 11 // 2005: 37

Calculated sales: 2006: 66-110 // 2005: 222-370 // Total: 288-480

Note: There is an Ingram listing for another ISBN for this book, but the sales are given as zero (0): 0-385-19171-5 (hardcover)

Ayn Rand and Song of Russia by Robert Mayhew (2004)

ISBN (paperback): 0-810-85276-4

Ingram sales: 2006: 8 // 2005: 24

Calculated sales: 2006: 48-80 // 2005: 144-240 // Total: 192-320

The Ayn Rand Cult by Jeff Walker (1999)

ISBN (paperback): 0-812-69390-6

Ingram sales: 2006: 16 // 2006: 9

Calculated sales: 2006: 96-160 // 2005: 54-90 // Total: 150-250

Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical by Chris Sciabarra (1995)

ISBN (paperback): 0-271-01441-5

Ingram sales: 2006: 8 // 2005: 16

Calculated sales: 2006: 48-80 // 2005: 96-160 // Total: 144-240

Note: There is an Ingram listing for another ISBN for this book, but the sales are given as zero (0) for both years: 0-271-01440-7 (hardcover)

The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand: Truth and Toleration in Objectivism by David Kelley (1990 as Truth and Toleration in Objectivism and 2000 as the present title)

ISBN (hardcover): 0-765-80060-8

Ingram sales: 2006: 1 // 2005: 5

Calculated sales: 2006: 6-10 // 2005: 30-50 // Total: 36-60

ISBN (paperback): 0-765-80863-3

Ingram sales: 2006: 0 // 2005: 2

Calculated sales: 2006: 0 // 2005: 12-20 // Total: 12-20

Calculated sales for both ISBN's: 2006: 6-10 // 2005: 42-70 // Total: 48-80

PARC sales in relation to Rand’s nonfiction published in her lifetime

High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 25, 2006)

CUI (1966): 9,560

Virtue of Selfishness (1964): 9,020

For the New Intellectual (1961): 3,420

Romantic Manifesto (1969): 3,370

PARC (2005): 2,080

ITOE (1967/1990): 2,030

Return of the Primitive (1971/1999): 1,250

Information used

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966)

ISBN (Signet paperback): 0-451-14795-2

Ingram sales: 2006: 360 // 2005: 569

Calculated sales: 2006: 2,160-3,600 // 2005: 3,414-5,690 // Total: 5,574-9,560

The Virtue of Selfishness (1964)

ISBN (Signet paperback): 0-451-16393-1

Ingram sales: 2006: 320 // 2005: 582

Calculated sales: 2006: 1,920-3,200 // 2005: 3,492-5,820 // Total: 5,412-9,020

For the New Intellectual (1961)

ISBN (Signet paperback): 0-451-16308-7

Ingram sales: 2006: 145 // 2005: 197

Calculated sales: 2006: 870-1,450 // 2005: 1,182-1,970 // Total: 2,052-3,420

The Romantic Manifesto (1969)

ISBN (Signet paperback): 0-451-14916-5

Ingram sales: 2006: 128 // 2005: 209

Calculated sales: 2006: 768-1,280 // 2005: 1,254-2,090 // Total: 2,022-3,370

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1967 original edition and 1990 revised and expanded edition)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-01030-6

Ingram sales: 2006: 65 // 2005: 138

Calculated sales: 2006: 390-650 // 2005: 828-1,380 // Total: 1,218-2,030

Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (1971 as The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution and 1999 as the present title)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-01184-1

Ingram sales: 2006: 55 // 2005: 70

Calculated sales: 2006: 330-550 // 2005: 420-700 // Total: 750-1,250

Note: Rand’s original book is no longer commercially available. Rand’s original order of essays was rearranged by Peter Schwartz and additional articles by Schwartz were included in the new title.

PARC sales in relation to Rand’s posthumous books

High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 25, 2006)

Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982): 3,740

Ayn Rand Answers (2005): 3,020

The Early Ayn Rand (1984): 2,970

Three Plays (2005): 2,560

PARC (2005): 2,080

Art of Nonfiction (2001): 1,820

Art of Fiction (2000): 1,410

Voice of Reason (1989): 970

Ayn Rand Reader (1999): 790

Journals (1997): 510

Letters (1995): 470

Russian Writings on Hollywood (1999): 20

Ayn Rand's Marginalia (1995): 0

Ayn Rand Column (1991): 0

Information used

Philosophy: Who Needs It, edited by Leonard Peikoff (1982)

ISBN (Signet paperback): 0-451-13893-7

Ingram sales: 2006: 109 // 2005: 265

Calculated sales: 2006: 654-1,090 // 2005: 1,590-2,650 // Total: 2,244-3,740

Note: There is no Ingram listing for other ISBN's for this book: 0-026-00900-5 and 0-672-52725-1(hardcover), 0-672-52795-2, 0-020-66900-3, 0-451-13249-1, 0-451-13891-7 and 0-451-17394-5 (paperback)

Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A, edited by Robert Mayhew (2005)

ISBN (paperback): 0-451-21665-2

Ingram sales: 2006: 93 // 2005: 209

Calculated sales: 2006: 558-930 // 2005: 1254-2090 // Total: 1812-3020

The Early Ayn Rand, edited by Leonard Peikoff (1984)

ISBN (paperback): 0-451-14607-7

Ingram sales: 2006: 0 // 2005: 20

Calculated sales: 2006: 0 // 2005: 120-200 // Total: 120-200

ISBN (revised—paperback): 0-451-21465-X

Ingram sales: 2006: 45 // 2005: 232

Calculated sales: 2006: 270-450 // 2005: 1,392-2,320 // Total: 1,662-2,770

Calculated sales for both ISBN's: 2006: 270-450 // 2005: 1,512-2,520 // Total: 1,782-2,970

Note: There is no Ingram listing for other ISBN's for this book: 0-453-00465-2 (hardcover) and 0-451-17396-1 (paperback)

Three Plays, edited by Richard E. Ralston (2005)

ISBN (paperback): 0-451-21466-8

Ingram sales: 2006: 54 // 2005: 202

Calculated sales: 2006: 324-540 // 2005: 1,212-2,020 // Total: 1,536-2,560

The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, edited by Robert Mayhew (2001)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-28231-4

Ingram sales: 2006: 67 // 2005: 115

Calculated sales: 2006: 402-670 // 2005: 690-1,150 // Total: 1,092-1,820

The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, edited by Tore Boeckmann (2000)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-28154-7

Ingram sales: 2006: 60 // 2005: 81

Calculated sales: 2006: 360-600 // 2005: 486-810 // Total: 846-1410

The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought, edited by Leonard Peikoff (1989)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-01046-2

Ingram sales: 2006: 32 // 2005: 65

Calculated sales: 2006: 192-320 // 2005: 390-650 // Total: 582-970

Note: There is no Ingram listing for another ISBN's for this book: 0-453-00634-5 (hardcover). Additional essays by Leonard Peikoff and Peter Schwartz.

The Ayn Rand Reader, edited by Gary Hull and Leonard Peikoff (1999)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-28040-0

Ingram sales: 2006: 29 // 2005: 50

Calculated sales: 2006: 174-290 // 2005: 300-500 // Total: 474-790

Journals of Ayn Rand, edited by David Harriman (1997)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-27887-2

Ingram sales: 2006: 22 // 2005: 29

Calculated sales: 2006: 132-220 // 2005: 174-290 // Total: 306-510

Note: There is an Ingram listing for another ISBN for this book, but the sales are given as zero (0) for both years: 0-525-94370-6 (hardcover)

Letters of Ayn Rand, edited by Michael S. Berliner (1995)

ISBN (paperback): 0-452-27404-4

Ingram sales: 2006: 23 // 2005: 24

Calculated sales: 2006: 138-230 // 2005: 144-240 // Total: 282-470

Note: There is an Ingram listing for another ISBN for this book, but the sales are given as zero (0) for both years: 0-525-93946-6 (hardcover)

Russian Writings on Hollywood, edited by Michael S. Berliner, translated by Dina Garmong (1999)

ISBN (paperback): 0-962-53363-7

Ingram sales: 2006: 0 // 2005: 2

Calculated sales: 2006: 0 // 2005: 12-20 // Total: 12-20

The Ayn Rand Column: Written for the Los Angeles Times, edited by Peter Schwartz (1991 original edition, 1998 revised edition)

Note: There is no Ingram listing for the original ISBN for this book: 1-561-14099-6 (paperback). There is an Ingram listing for the other revised ISBN for this book, but the sales are given as zero (0) for both years: 1-561-14292-1 (paperback).

Ayn Rand's Marginalia: Her Critical Comments on the Writings of Over 20 Authors, edited by Robert Mayhew (1995)

Note: There is an Ingram listing for the ISBN for this book, but the sales are given as zero (0) for both years: 1-56114-250-6 (paperback).

PARC sales in relation to Rand’s main fiction

Note: It is almost unfair to make this comparison. I did not use all hardback and paperback versions of Rand’s fiction being sold, only the Signet paperback editions of 1996. This survey is just to get a general idea of proportion, not be an exact accounting report.

As this idea only occurred to me as I was putting the finishing touches on this report, the survey of Rand’s four main fiction works was made on August 26, 2006. Just to be sure, I also ran a check for PARC and the numbers were the same as for August 25.

Some of these sales numbers could be influenced by ARI’s program of free book distribution to high-schools.

High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 26, 2006)

The Fountainhead (1943): 139,930

Anthem (1938): 137,080

Atlas Shrugged (1957): 87,510

We the Living (1936): 9,730

PARC (2005): 2,080

Information used

The Fountainhead (1943)

ISBN (Signet paperback 1996): 0-451-19115-3

Ingram sales: 2006: 6,666 // 2005: 7,327

Calculated sales: 2006: 39,996-66,660 // 2005: 43,962-73,270 // Total: 83,958-13.9930

Anthem (1938)

ISBN (Signet paperback 1996): 0-451-19113-7

Ingram sales: 2006: 6,060 // 2005: 7,648

Calculated sales: 2006: 36,360-60,600 // 2005: 45,888-76,480 // Total: 82,248-137,080

Atlas Shrugged (1957)

ISBN (Signet paperback 1996): 0-451-19114-5

Ingram sales: 2006: 4,241 // 2005: 4,510

Calculated sales: 2006: 25,446-42,410 // 2005: 27,060-45,100 // Total: 52,506-87,510

We the Living (1936)

ISBN (Signet paperback 1996): 0-451-18784-9

Ingram sales: 2006: 356 // 2005: 617

Calculated sales: 2006: 2,136-3,560 // 2005: 3,702-6,170 // Total: 5,838-9,730

Final comments

People can now argue and interpret these numbers as they wish. They can be interpreted in a number of manners.

I would like to mention one interpretation of my own. I had originally looked for a system to calculate book sales because of a comment I made back in May 2005 in a post on the old SoloHQ, I mentioned something that had been bothering me about the way PARC was done.

I am especially interested in how this book will stand both press-wise and sales-wise in relation to the other books of Rand's unpublished writings (starting with The Early Ayn Rand, which was the first after her death if I'm not mistaken).

I will try to look into this. If what I suspect is true, then this is most definitely not beside the point.

I do not like the idea at all of someone positioning her unpublished work in a form that makes it lay an egg in public. This smacks of pure publishing incompetence to me, and as I already stated, she deserves better.

My point at that time was that I was sad when I contemplated the effect on sales of publishing Rand’s words with heavy-handed interference from another person. I didn’t think the public would be enthusiastic about the idea. I was thinking specifically about PARC back then. As time went on, I started looking for a system that the public could use for checking. The way I have seen facts distorted by Objectivist acolytes in public discussions over this last year-and-a-half made this condition imperative.

Well, we now have such a system. Let them now try to distort these numbers. Anyone can check them.

For the present, looking at these figures, two things stand out above all else.

1. Rand’s fiction outsells all the rest by an enormous margin.

2 Rand’s 1960’s nonfiction outsold her posthumous nonfiction in the same 2005-2006 time period by a very large margin. One would think that the market for Rand’s works shown by such high sales numbers of much older works would create a similar market for new releases of her unpublished works.

As a general trend, though, sales are much lower where there has been more interference with Rand’s words than where there has been less. Apparently, the public vastly prefers Rand as she wrote over Rand filtered through the judgment of acolytes.

As to PARC, I suspect the total has most likely crossed the 2,000 book sales mark, especially as the high-end projection for one of the two ISBN’s is already over it.

Michael

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Here is a short version for easier visualization.

PARC

As of August 25, 2006, the following book quantities of PARC have been sold commercially as calculated from Ingram warehouse sales (see below):

  • 2005: A minimum of 750 copies and a maximum of 1,250 copies
  • 2006 (only until August 25): A minimum of 498 copies and a maximum of 830 copies
  • Total: A minimum of 1,248 copies and a maximum of 2,080 copies

PARC sales in relation to other pertinent books about Rand and/or Objectivism: High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 25, 2006)

PARC (2005): 2,080

OPAR (1991): 1,550

Ominous Parallels (1982): 1,490

MYWAR (1989/1998): 640

PAR (1986): 480

Song of Russia (2004): 320

Ayn Rand Cult (1999): 250

Russian Radical (1995): 240

Contested Legacy (1990/2000): 80

PARC sales in relation to Rand’s nonfiction published in her lifetime: High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 25, 2006)

CUI (1966): 9,560

Virtue of Selfishness (1964): 9,020

For the New Intellectual (1961): 3,420

Romantic Manifesto (1969): 3,370

PARC (2005): 2,080

ITOE (1967/1990): 2,030

Return of the Primitive (1971/1999): 1,250

PARC sales in relation to Rand’s posthumous books: High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 25, 2006)

Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982): 3,740

Ayn Rand Answers (2005): 3,020

The Early Ayn Rand (1984): 2,970

Three Plays (2005): 2,560

PARC (2005): 2,080

Art of Nonfiction (2001): 1,820

Art of Fiction (2000): 1,410

Voice of Reason (1989): 970

Ayn Rand Reader (1999): 790

Journals (1997): 510

Letters (1995): 470

Russian Writings on Hollywood (1999): 20

Ayn Rand's Marginalia (1995): 0

Ayn Rand Column (1991): 0

PARC sales in relation to Rand’s main fiction: High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 26, 2006)

The Fountainhead (1943): 139,930

Anthem (1938): 137,080

Atlas Shrugged (1957): 87,510

We the Living (1936): 9,730

PARC (2005): 2,080

Final comments

People can now argue and interpret these numbers as they wish. They can be interpreted in a number of manners.

I would like to mention one interpretation of my own. I had originally looked for a system to calculate book sales because of a comment I made back in May 2005 in a post on the old SoloHQ, I mentioned something that had been bothering me about the way PARC was done.

I am especially interested in how this book will stand both press-wise and sales-wise in relation to the other books of Rand's unpublished writings (starting with The Early Ayn Rand, which was the first after her death if I'm not mistaken).

I will try to look into this. If what I suspect is true, then this is most definitely not beside the point.

I do not like the idea at all of someone positioning her unpublished work in a form that makes it lay an egg in public. This smacks of pure publishing incompetence to me, and as I already stated, she deserves better.

My point at that time was that I was sad when I contemplated the effect on sales of publishing Rand’s words with heavy-handed interference from another person. I didn’t think the public would be enthusiastic about the idea. I was thinking specifically about PARC back then. As time went on, I started looking for a system that the public could use for checking. The way I have seen facts distorted by Objectivist acolytes in public discussions over this last year-and-a-half made this condition imperative.

Well, we now have such a system. Let them now try to distort these numbers. Anyone can check them.

For the present, looking at these figures, two things stand out above all else.

1. Rand’s fiction outsells all the rest by an enormous margin.

2 Rand’s 1960’s nonfiction outsold her posthumous nonfiction in the same 2005-2006 time period by a very large margin. One would think that the market for Rand’s works shown by such high sales numbers of much older works would create a similar market for new releases of her unpublished works.

As a general trend, though, sales are much lower where there has been more interference with Rand’s words than where there has been less. Apparently, the public vastly prefers Rand as she wrote over Rand filtered through the judgment of acolytes.

As to PARC, I suspect the total has most likely crossed the 2,000 book sales mark, especially as the high-end projection for one of the two ISBN’s is already over it.

Michael

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Michael; Your report is very interesting. Amazon has figures for all the books they sell. Does Amazon's figures agree with your figures. Does anyone have any idea what the mailing list size is for ARI or TOC?

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Chris,

For a discussion of Amazon's ranking system in relation to PARC, please see this post.

I do not know the size of ARI and TAS mailing lists. Obviously, direct sales by both organizations will impact the sales figures of most of the books mentioned to some extent.

At least with the method I used, we can have a rational basis for a notion of how sales are going. This is the standard used by publishing industry professionals for their own work and projections.

Michael

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I like to add one more thing to this discussion about the sales of PARC. Library distribution: The DC area has several jusrsidictions that have independant libraries. Libraries buy books that there is demand for. In the DC only two jursidictions have brought PARC. The DC library copy appears to not have been checked out. Fairfax County has purchased seven copies none of which have been checked out. I checked Arlington and Montgomery County and they had not purchased PARC. Libraries do not give out information about circulation of books. Libraries do report the books they have purchased. The above info suggests that PARC has only been read by only a small group of people.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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Heh, thanks MSK.

It's a good thing he didn't quit his day job.

I figure maybe his upcoming excapultation/decapulation of the Bible should get him a little more traction. I don't think he's gonna get the "Passion of the Christ" audience, though. Nope... But the controversy might move a few sheckles into his account.

I think he had a little practice run on that, he was airing out his hermeneutics a bit on a SOLOP thread. I found he was more of a history regurgitator than a thinker. I think maybe he was a little dodgy when someone started moving towards the Gnostic scripture, though he did acknowledge that, a bit.

It's just a bad fight to mount, off the rip, this Bible thing. But it's not about him throwing new light. It's about James Valliant moving some books. Can't fault him for that.

rde

No such thing as bad publicity? Maybe.

EDIT (somewhat extensive, more like a transplant):

I know that attention is something you have to be careful giving out, especially for the ultra-deprived, but I continue to make exceptions. There is, of course, a parallel thread running over at i'm-a-curmudgeon-dot-com about the same topic, Robert Campbell playing goalie (very well). Most of the replies are of the usual sniffy and snarky variety... I picked a small one, because it's just so Fred Weiss:

Maybe you're the one who should be commenting on it, Campbell, since obviously you and the other OLLies are obsessed about it. Why else would you put in this amount of effort to figure this out? Obviously you're panicked that a great many people are reading the book and the truth is finally getting out about the Brandens.

Small per-taters, I just like his shrillness; it makes me happy. Somebody hit his whine button. No one's obsessed about it, Weiss...stop your mindreader/negative PR-bad psychops act, homeboy! Now that you've done this, it should only be a matter of time before you can safely go back to accusing other people of psychologizing.

Which way does he want it? Does it matter? Like I said, I suggest severe gastrointestinal issues.

rde

Just let it out, dude.

Edited by Rich Engle
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If anybody is interested, Robert Campbell made a post on SOLOP, where the author of PARC and his supporters post: How Many Copies Has Mr. Valliant's Book Sold?.

The posts reveal diversity in negativity, but one thing in common stands out. Their game is up of insinuating (or stating) a high sales volume for PARC to order to present a false image.

More coming later.

Michael

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I stop looking SoloPassion shortly after they started and after looking at the posts about the sales of PARC I don't think I'm going to give my self the pleasure any more. What a bunch of nasty people! What evasion! Michael; Thanks for the link for the education.

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I just took a peek over there...sheesh.

Robert C. carries on, with great gusto and relish, an unstoppable human tradition...

What do we always do when we see a spaceship crash (like in War of the Worlds), or something weird wash up on the shore, or some nasty animal hiding underneath a car?

Well, someone always has to poke at it with a stick! It just has to happen. Here's to some first-class, relentless stick-poking, Dr. Campbell! B)

It's so weird how they've kind of iconized, or institutionalized PARC, as if it were like marking B.C. from A.D.

Holding onto that stance will, in the end, be nothing more than a big, rusty boat anchor. The Brandens are decent people, and their books were honest in their subjectivity. I saw no axes being ground- they had devoted their lives to Rand and her work for years, they were the two shining stars. I would have been suspicious if I didn't see the sometimes rugged (and sometimes loving) accounts of Rand in their books. Both books made me appreciate all of them more- it took nothing away from Rand- it humanized her. The Brandens are active, involved, happy people, and they've been up to lots of other things over the years- neither of them are the kind that would waste their lives mounting some kind of sour, grimacing campaign- they know better, because they value life too much to drag themselves down.

It would, by far, be better for everyone (and Rand's memory) to simply move off this old tragedy. But for now, it's not going that way, because someone is making use of it for other purposes.

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I find this info on the sales of the book kind of interesting. I also found it interesting to hear about the book's publishers. I took a look at their site as I had never heard of them (I'm a bit of a 'book nerd', if you will). PARC just doesn't seem to fit in with the others that they publishing. I would think that the ARIans would have lines Valliant up with a more important publisher, since they seem to like that book. Wonder why they didn't...

Have also been reading the noted thread on SOLOP. Gee, I didn't know that I was a "hopeless psychophants of the Brandens throw themselves under the bus to defend them". Have never met either f2f or electronically NB, and BB responded to a post of mine. So that makes me one of their psychophants?? Riiiight.

For various reasons, I've been looking for a used copy of PARC. I done some searching on alibris, and haven't found one cheap enought to pick up. Personally, I think the number of books out there also determines how likely one will find it in a used bookstore.

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Michael,

If you want to read some select passages of Valliant's misuse of rhetoric and comments on them, I highly recommend The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics - One Man's View by Jordan Zimmerman and PARC Fallacies for some gross errors and misrepresentations.

Neil Parille also has posted several critical entries, with quotes, on his blog ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism. He posts entries on SOLOP in order to give Valliant supporters a chance to comment (at least I think that is his reason).

In PARC Facts, you will find a list of links to online discussions. The review by David Brown, one of the directors of Laissez Faire Books, is the first and one of the best from my view. LFB refuses to sell the book.

The reason I did an analysis of sales figures was to highlight the actual impact of what gets grossly misrepresented in public by the PARC people. Their vehicle is the free one - the Internet - where they can generate audience by insulting people. If it were not for the insults, they couldn't get anybody but their small group to read their stuff, even though it is for free.

When they try to get real people to actually attend something, physically go somewhere, around this book, they lay an egg with poor or nonexistent attendance.

The curious part about these creatures is that now that they branded you a "hopeless psychophant of the Brandens," if you respond, they will get upset and say you are obsessing about them, etc. :)

Michael

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David Brown looked at the rest of Valliant's publisher's list. Would it be possible to contact any of them and find out if money had to exchanged to get their books published. Have there been any reviews of PARC outside of Objectivist sites? I have heard that Lindsay's trip to Orange County was subsided. Does anyone know if this true?

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MSK:

The curious part about these creatures is that now that they branded you a "hopeless psychophant of the Brandens," if you respond, they will get upset and say you are obsessing about them, etc.

Speaking of obsessing, have any of you Linz-bashers flown all the way to New Zealand to deliver a speech to a half dozen friends and relatives of someone else who was having a pitiful book signing in a store (which doesn't carry the book being signed) down the street from a conference at which Perigo was delivering a speech which you were trying to refute before hearing it? Now that would be obsessing.

J

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In that same discussion on So-Low Bashin', Dyin' O'Shame had this to say:

I'll always hope to be Robert Bidinotto's little "guttersnipe." Given the source, it's quite an honor to be branded with the very insult that James Taggart hurled in a fit of malicious rage at his wife Cherryl and that Mrs. Keating used to describe Katie to split Peter from her.

Honor? Let's review what became of Dyin' O'Shame's worthy predecessors, shall we?

1. Cherryl, rather than standing up to her monstrous husband, James Taggart, and accepting the moral support of Dagny, chose to end her life by suicide. "Not in your world." Right, she allowed James to dictate to her the nature of reality, and gave up her own mind and values. Quite an honor to be grouped with her, right, Dyin' O'?

2. Katie, rather than standing up to Peter's monstrous mother or the even worse monster, Ellsworth Toohey, chose to give up Peter, the only thing that meant anything to her in the world, and worse: to give up valuing anything. Hard to tell if that's more or less admirable than Cherryl...

But compared to what these two honorable role models did, it kinda makes into small potatoes, by comparison, Dyin' O's giving up, at the behest of Greg Salmonella, her promising project of cost-benefits analysis of the Objectivist virtues, doesn't it.

Sad, what some people will embrace when they give up their independent valuing minds.

REB

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