It seems people have finally had enough of the Harvey Weinstein story: ‘Hollywood Ending’, media journalist Ken Auletta’s new book, fizzled in its first three weeks on sale with just 2,600 copies sold.
NPD BookScan, which tracks print book sales in the United States, reported Thursday that 690 copies were sold last week, the book’s third week of publication. A total of 1,533 copies were sold in the first week, which fell to 375 the following week. This brought total sales to 2,598. (Online sales are recorded separately, approximately two months after a print release.)
It’s “a pretty weak start for a book by a writer of this caliber, on a topic that was so important at the time it happened,” NDP analyst Kristen McLean told TheWrap.
Even on Martha’s Vineyard, where Weinstein once spent his summers in a sprawling vacation home, the local Edgartown bookstore sold just three copies.
“If you want to know why I think it didn’t sell, I guess people are walking away from the hard stuff right now,” Mathew Tombers, director of Edgartown Books, said in an email. “Since the invasion of Ukraine, customers [and I include myself] wanted to stay away from hard, [nonfiction] books” – especially those dealing with “issues of our time”.
When the studio mogul was exposed as a serial rapist and abuser, a media maelstrom sprung into action, producing articles, podcasts, documentaries – and two bestselling books. Auletta, the veteran New York writer who portrayed Weinstein in 2002, finally published his own opus this year.
“Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence” published by Penguin was marketed as a deep dive into Weinstein’s origins, with exclusive interviews, new features and correspondence with the man himself from his prison cell. jail. But since the book was released on July 12, it hasn’t been commercially successful.
“Hollywood Ending” has never made USA Today’s Weekly Top 150 list, nor the New York Times Bestseller list. It currently sits at #6,619 on Amazon Books and #18,465 on Barnes & Noble.com.
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These numbers are even more dismal compared to the runaway successes of Weinstein’s two major books that preceded it. Ronan Farrow’s “Catch and Kill” sold 44,611 copies in its first week alone, neared 85,000 in its first three, and spent five weeks on the NYT Bestseller list; “She Said,” by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, sold 10,095 hardcover copies in its first week and topped the charts for three weeks, grossing nearly 23,000 copies sold during that time.
Add to that Auletta’s established track record as a bestselling author and a promotional campaign that included an interview on CBS Sunday Morning and other high-profile outlets, and the plot thickens. In an industry as unpredictable as book publishing, timing is everything.
“[Auletta] is a much-loved media reporter,” observed Ed Nawotka, bookseller and international editor at Publishers Weekly. “But this is the third book on a story that once people feel they have a resolution to [it]it’s probably not as salacious.
Although it contains ‘new and nuanced’ information – including a description of a Weinstein victim who was so grotesque it went viral (it had to do with the shape of his member) – ‘Hollywood Ending’ apparently lacks the “breaking news” quality that sent similar headlines flying off the shelves in 2019.
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“The problem is [that people] moved on,” Nawotka said. “I don’t mean people don’t care, but maybe they don’t think it’s worth the $35 they would have to spend to find out what those shades are.”
This year’s figures point to the same conclusion. Following the social and political unrest of 2020 (a bumper year for adult non-fiction) and last year’s pandemic-fueled sales boom, the book market has cooled. Overall, adult non-fiction “isn’t selling particularly well this year, especially in these current events-type areas,” McLean said, noting that some subcategories fell below 2019 levels. “There just seems to be a lot of appetite for escapist fiction this year, and not a lot of appetite for some of the more hard-hitting political or current affairs.”
Even titles backed by “an aggressive launch campaign,” like “Hollywood Ending,” struggled to achieve or maintain bestseller status for several weeks.
Additionally, the print edition has been hit hard in the years since Weinstein’s story. Thanks to inflation and the closure of paper mills during the pandemic, production and shipping costs have increased, driving up the price of hardcover books. “Hollywood Ending” sells for $30 at most bookstores.
Although the number of copies ordered by publisher Penguin remains unknown (the company does not share its anticipated sales forecast), “it would not have [been] an insignificant draw,” McLean said.
But Nawotka, publisher of Publishers Weekly, doesn’t consider it a failure. “It’s not great, but it’s not terrible,” he said. “It’s not dead in the water.” To be fair, sales rebounded a bit in its third week, rising from 375 to 690 the previous week.
While the book certainly isn’t on any bestseller list, Penguin could win something in the long run.
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“What you pay for with the book is not necessarily a single object. You pay for a relationship with the author,” Nawotka continued. “There are a lot of side benefits to working with someone as prestigious as Ken Auletta, on [a] topic as big as the Harvey Weinstein scandal, even if you’re not explicitly selling books.
That doesn’t mean the fate of “Hollywood Ending” is sealed. A social media resurgence could mean a boom in sales, as is the case with older books that have gone viral on “BookTok”. And Weinstein has yet to step out of the headlines.
Auletta’s tome landed on shelves a month after the New York Supreme Court decided to uphold her 23-year prison sentence. On October 10, he will face 11 charges of rape and sexual assault at a trial in Los Angeles, likely propelling his name into conversation.
“If there are events in the future that bring it to mind, then it will sell again, or it will sell in reaction to that,” McLean agreed. “This book is not going to run out.”
What, if anything, does “Hollywood Ending” say about the future of #MeToo storytelling? For one thing, publishers place great importance on “mock titles” or books on comparable topics, when deciding what to bet on next.
“It tends to be a following market, in the sense that if there’s a great vampire book published, you’ll see a lot of vampire books published,” McLean explained. “But also, if you see a book that was expected to do well in one area and surprises people with poor performance, I’m sure that’s taken into account.”
Still, Nawotka thinks there are many, many more #MeToo stories waiting to be told: “The question is, does the public have an appetite for them?”