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Lee Siegel: Hey, I Sold 10,000 Books!

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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  • An email arrived from an AOL address yesterday, signed by Lee Siegel, culture critic turned Internet culture critic. It read: "A correction to Choire Sicha's note on how many copies my book has sold. To date, it's sold over 10,000 copies. I'm sure my publisher will be happy to confirm that. Let's see if you have the integrity to print it." RadarOnline.com's note quoted Nielsen Bookscan's figure (provided by that company that day, upon our request) of 3400 copies of Siegel's book Against the Machine sold since its release in January, and integrity is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code." Nielsen Bookscan tracks more than 400 independent stores, and "retail sales from chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders, from Amazon.com, and from stores like Costco (but not Wal-Mart)." Only in the case of a few blockbusters, ones with either major Christian or warehouse outlet sales sources, has anyone accused Nielsen of counting a mere 30% of books sold.

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