Costco Controversy Around Book Selection

July 9th, 2014 · 50 Comments

I don’t know if everyone has seen the news about Costco and the book America: Imagine a World Without Her by Dinesh D’Souza, but I’ve read a lot about this, gotten some comments on here and Facebook, and some emails too.  I had actually wanted to stay out of this completely because it seems to be a situation that is based on political ideology, and this isn’t that kind of blog.  But I feel like I need to address it, if only to acknowledge to my readers that it’s a news worthy story.

So, if you’re not aware America: Imagine a World Without Her by Dinesh D’Souza was released in early June 2014 and Costco started selling it at that point.  Sales were not great, according to information from Costco, and when they reviewed their book selection at the end of June it was determined that the book wasn’t selling well enough at their stores to meet their criteria.  At that point Costco had only sold 3,600 copies of the book; that averages out to less than 10 per warehouse in the US.  Also, at the end of the month, on June 27, the documentary based on the book was released at more than 1,000 theatres in the US.  It seems that the movie prompted interest in the book and sales increased, both at Costco and other retailers.

In the week following the release of the film Costco sold around 700 copies of the book.  The book is currently ranked number 1 at Amazon for books and number 7 for Kindle sales, but was only at number 51 earlier in the week.  This week, America will hit number 17 on the NY Times Best Sellers list.  The book does not show up on the Top 10 Best Sellers at Barnes and Noble for this week, but is currently number four on the list of top 100 books this hour.   But the bump in sales at Costco, as well as at Amazon obviously, happened after the movie was released, and from what I can tell, after Costco had decided to quit selling the book.  Some stores had started pulling the book immediately on July 1, others still had some on their book table earlier this week and were waiting until they do their regular book changes on Tuesday or Wednesday.  After the increase in sales, and the big bruhaha over them discontinuing sales of the book, Costco has actually backtracked and decided to keep the book in their stores as a result of renewed interest and perhaps also because it is finally moving onto the NYT Best Sellers list.

On the face of it, it seems that Costco had decided to stop selling the book because it wasn’t selling that well and they have a very limited selection of books, so they get rid of the things that aren’t moving well, as you would expect since that is what they do with the items in the rest of the store.  But there are many that see this as some evil, politically motivated conspiracy.  Here’s what Costco has said in response to all this:

Costco is not a book store. Our book shelf space is very limited. We exercise discipline in the best utilization of that limited space based solely on what our members are buying. We can’t carry every title that our members are interested in reading. We are constantly monitoring book sales, and make decisions to pull books off the shelves frequently based on sales volume to make room for other titles. Politics or controversy over content do not influence our decisions.

I think this is a case of seeing controversy where there is none.  Sometimes books don’t sell well at a particular retailer, it just happens. Costco stores don’t necessarily have the same demographics as Amazon, so their sales aren’t going to be the same.  And honestly, this alleged slight to the book has probably done more for its sales than anything else.  Costco has always carried books on both ends of the political spectrum, so it seems pretty clear that they don’t pick their books based on political message.  They have a book on their table right now that is, by all accounts, also very critical of Obama and the current administration, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future by Dr. Ben Carson.  I’ve also seen books by Rush Limbaugh at Costco, and if anyone is hating the other side of the political spectrum, it is him.  So if Costco is so concerned with pushing a political agenda through their book table selections, why do they sell these books?  Why is it just this one book that would be pulled?  Probably because this one book wasn’t selling well with their members.

Not to mention, how do people think Costco buys books?  Just randomly?  There is no way that this book ended up at Costco without awareness of the content of the book, as well as the history of the publisher and author.  Dinesh D’Souza, the author has made a whole career of writing books and making documentaries about how horrible liberals and Obama are for the US.  And the list of books from the publisher, Regnery Publishing, makes it abundantly clear what side of the political aisle they are on, and it is definitely not the same one as the the current administration.  I think Costco had sales expectations for this book that it did not meet.  Perhaps they should have waited to make a decision about its continued poor sales record until after the movie was released.  Of course, maybe this was just a part of the regular process they have for reviewing book sales.  But whatever the reasoning, it looks tenuous at best to say that dropping the book was based on the political content of the book.

Also, Costco is not censoring your reading choices.  They were exercising what is considered “editorial selection” because they do not have the space to sell every book ever published.  Just like publishers cannot publish everything they receive from prospective authors, retailers cannot carry all books published.  For instance, I’ll bet that your local Christian bookstore, like Family Christian, exercises editorial selection too and wouldn’t sell things that you might find at Costco or other book sellers.  I’m pretty sure you’re not going to find Swedish Death Metal there, but you’d never demand that they stock it even though there’s no way it is going to be a big seller with their customers, would you?  And you definitely wouldn’t claim that they are censoring books by not selling this.  You would expect that they can’t carry every book and have to tailor their selection to the books that are popular with and appeal to their customers.

I want to make clear that I am neither for nor against this book.  I could not care less if Costco sells this book or not, quite frankly.  Politics, like religion, can be a very contentious subject for many people, and as such makes for quick, often over the top, knee-jerk reactions.  Things like this become fodder in a political battle that has little to do with what is best or most productive for the country, which is a shame.

I haven’t turned off comments on this post but I will be watching them closely and will not allow comments on this post, or any other, to be used to make personal attacks or spurious claims about Costco, myself, or the author of this book.  If we can all play nicely and behave in a mature and respectful manner that’s great, if not, I’ll be trashing comments, that is to say, I will be deleting unpleasant comments.

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50 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 MARK // 2014.07.14 at 10:02 pm

    SORRY I’AM A COSTCO CUSTOMER FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND IF THEY HAVE AN AGENDA BY PULLING THIS BOOK IT SHOWS, SO STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR THEM…HILLARY’S BOOK TANKED 1 WEEK INTO RELEASE AND AS WITH OTHER’S IS STILL OUT THERE , SO THIS EXCUSE ABOUT IT NOT SELLING IS NOT TRUE.. IT’S CURIOUS THAT THEY PULLED IT WHEN THE MOVIE COMES OUT AND INTEREST SPREADS………….

    • 2 Kimberly // 2014.07.15 at 2:33 am

      @Mark – I keep hearing a lot of people say that Hillary Clinton’s book has tanked but it is selling pretty well and has been on several best seller lists for a number of weeks now. I’m not really sure how else to judge the progress of her book sales other than that. Here are the stats today from Amazon (which is the only place I can get constant updates on selling figures and also something I posted previously on here):
      Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
      #1 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Gender Studies
      #3 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Political
      #5 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Women’s Studies

      Also, how her book is selling is no reflection on whether Dinesh D’Souza’s book was or is selling, at Costco or any other outlet.

  2. 3 Copeland Cole // 2014.07.14 at 9:08 am

    Just an update on the movie’s box office. Preliminary results (these are usually finalized on Monday afternoon) show “America” was #12 at the box office this past week, in it’s third week of release. It dropped 10% from the previous week, for a three week total of $8,680,000. Not necessarily bad for a documentary, but not a box office smash either by any means. Rottentomatoes. Com has a critics rating of 10%, though it does list 90% of those reading the site as wanting to see it. In other words, it’s a bad movie, which, nevertheless has a small core who will see it because of it’s message. Just some updated facts on the movie’s performance.

    • 4 Kimberly // 2014.07.14 at 9:14 am

      Here’s a link to the daily box office breakdown if anyone is interested:
      Box Office Mojo: America (2014).

      • 5 MARK // 2014.07.14 at 10:05 pm

        FOR NOT WANTING TO MAKE A STATEMENT EITHER WAY CURIOUS YOU LINK TO A SITE TO SAY THAT NO ONE IS GOING TO THE MOVIE….SINCE MOST MOVIES ARE IN 4000+ THEATERS AND THIS IN JUST OVER A 1000 IT IS DOING WELL …………..NICE TO GET THE FACTS ABOUT WHY MONEY MADE IN RELEASE HAS A REASON BEHIND IT , DONT YOU THINK?

        • 6 Kimberly // 2014.07.15 at 2:39 am

          @Mark – Box Office Mojo is an apolitical site that tracks box office earnings without regard for the content of the movie. The numbers they cite are the numbers that actually reflect the money made by this movie. And I made absolutely no commentary on the popularity of the movie, that is your own negative interpretation. I think it has done pretty well for a documentary released into just 1,150 cinemas that normally probably have only fictional/entertaining movie choices. If you were trying to address the previous commenter on this thread, Copeland Cole, mostly he just sites statistics that are widely available on any number of sites that track movie box office numbers.

        • 7 Copeland Cole // 2014.07.15 at 9:31 am

          Mark, the point was to show, from a numbers standpoint, the movie is doing so-so. As a documentary, perhaps better. It has been critically savaged, with most reviews citing the amateurish movie-making and the complete lack of statistics backing up his assertions. I listed it’s box office numbers to show its *not* popular, at least where it ultimately counts, box office dollars, as a few have adamantly stated. Go read your book, go see your movie, and let the rest of us ignore this amateur piece of writing and movie-making. At least I learned a new phrase for “slavery”, as he calls it “theft of labor”, as he attempts to diminish the entire deplorable history of slavery.

    • 8 Poster #1 // 2014.07.15 at 1:46 pm

      Copeland Cole:

      Please take your politics and leave the board. This is not the place for you to make ad hominem attacks against people you disagree with.

      Rush Limbaugh’s “illicit drug use” was the same post injury painkiller addiction millions of American’s have had to contend with.

      • 9 Copeland Cole // 2014.07.16 at 2:38 am

        Rush Limbaugh doctor shopped, had *thousands* of illegal narcotics, and even had his hired help, help procure them for him. If he did have some pain related problems, that does not give him an excuse to illegally obtain prescription drugs. I have no idea how he avoided prison, except that he has unlimited funds for legal services. Any other person would have spent years in prison.

        And, no, I will not “leave the board”. The first and most contentious political attacks have come from right wing posters. Just because I prefer to post actual facts that are contrary to your beliefs does not make them any less true. And that does not mean I have to silence my remarks. The only person who can, and will if she wants to (and more power to her) is the operator of this blog. She has been viciously and personally attacked for posting an interesting subject that the right wing posters have disagreed with, yet they have provided no actual facts to disprove them. I’ve heard the whole “shut up” routine for years now, and that most often means the other side has no other valid argument, and chooses to tell me to be quiet. I am being as diplomatic as possible, but I refuse to let attacks, lies, and unfounded conspiracy theories flourish without pointing out the obvious wrongs of those statements.

        Again, bottom line, book doesn’t sell, CostCo doesn’t carry it. It’s true with any book. Movies work the same way. It’s $ that count in those businesses.

  3. 10 Marjorie Stradinger // 2014.07.13 at 4:23 pm

    Thank you so much for clearing up the questions I had after reading the USA Today story about Costco removing this book. The lack of the kind of details you provide did make it seem like Costco had completely turned on the values I knew them to have, which made me hesitate to keep being as gang-ho for Costco as I have always been.

    I appreciate getting this more balanced perspective.

    Whew!

    Marjorie

    • 11 Kimberly // 2014.07.14 at 3:05 am

      @Marjorie – Thanks! I’m glad I could shed some light on the situation. Clearly I love Costco, so it’s always hard for me to say harsh things about them, but if they had actually pulled a book because they didn’t like the message I would have called them out for it, just as I have for other things. Much like you, I was relieved to see the numbers on how well it was selling, or not, at their locations.

  4. 12 David // 2014.07.12 at 3:58 pm

    You should pay attention to the books you claim to see being sold at Costco. Rush Limbaughs’s recent books are award winning children’s books about American history. It’s silly to bring him into his this conversation. He hasn’t written a book about politics in about twenty years. Of course, Costco sold the more recent book by Al Franken referring to Rush as a big fat idiot. How tasteful.

    • 13 Kimberly // 2014.07.13 at 3:28 am

      @David – You should pay attention to what I actually wrote. I’ll refresh your memory: “I’ve also seen books by Rush Limbaugh at Costco, and if anyone is hating the other side of the political spectrum, it is him.” As you can probably see, I do not state a specific date or even a timeframe for when I have seen a book by Rush Limbaugh. Or are you trying to claim that Costco never carried political books by Rush Limbaugh at all, ever?
      Also, as the sentence right before that one in my original post points out, there is currently a book for sale at Costco by Dr. Ben Carson, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future, despite the fact that he is also critical of Obama and the current administration. I’ve also seen other books by right-wing political personalities like Bill O’Riley and Glenn Beck at Costco. The point being, there is no political motivation to Costco’s book selection or they wouldn’t stock any of these other books either.
      And I haven’t read Al Franken’s book but if he has to resort to name calling to prove his point, I’m not impressed with that style of writing either.

      • 14 Marjorie Stradinger // 2014.07.13 at 4:26 pm

        Amen to the anti-name calling to make weak points.

      • 15 Copeland Cole // 2014.07.14 at 8:57 am

        It must be noted that AL Franken wrote his book before he became a Senator, and it was a comedy. He at least tried to be funny for a living, while Limbaugh does it quite by accident.

        • 16 David // 2014.07.14 at 9:13 pm

          I believe you mean satire. Ironically, Rush claims that a lot of his commentary is satire, too, although Rush has made a lot more money doing it. If you find it funny to call someone “a big fat idiot” and also use the phrase as a title to a book, perhaps you should learn to be more tolerant with those you disagree with and don’t be hatin.

          • 17 Copeland Cole // 2014.07.15 at 9:38 am

            Rush Limbaugh claims much of what he says, now and in the past, is satire, particularly when it is controversial. He wants it both ways, to be taken as a serious political commentator, and a satirist when his remarks are offensive. Al Franken was a full time comedian at the time of his book. If the worst Rush Limbaugh can be called is a big, fat, idiot, then he should be so lucky his four marriages and illicit drug use are not used in the title of a book.

      • 18 David // 2014.07.14 at 8:50 pm

        Kimberly, Rush wrote only two books involving political commentary which were published in 1992 and 1993, respectively, and were sold at Costco. If you feel it necessary to bring Rush’s name into a discussion by referring to these books published over two decades ago then that is your prerogative. A probative vs. prejudicial question comes into play regarding the relevancy of you bringing up Rush’s name to make a point. Perhaps you thought these books weren’t so old. I would have used a more recent comparison of commentators books like Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, etc., all who have written strong ideological books in the past few years. After 1993, Rush didn’t publish another book until last year when his latest book “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans” (a harmless children’s book) and also sold at Costco By most accounts this latest book is well liked by children who are unconcerned with Rush’s politics.

        • 19 Kimberly // 2014.07.15 at 2:27 am

          @David – I did hear/read you the first couple of times you said this. I think I might have even mentioned that I didn’t say when I had seen them, just remembered seeing them at some point. Obviously I didn’t realize that they were so old and would take over the discussion to such a degree. However, he is the one author that I know infuriates liberals as much as this authors book probably does. That said, I think the book I was actually thinking about was one written about him and published in 2010, “Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One” by Zev Chafets. I don’t follow political books as closely as you clearly do. I think they are all pretty much the same, from whatever side of the political aisle they originate from, and I don’t find them to be based on a lot of unpleasant accusations that rarely have anything to back them up. And that is fine if that is what people want to read, it’s just not for me. All of the others you mentioned though, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, have also had books sold at Costco.

    • 20 Eileen // 2014.07.14 at 12:26 pm

      @David…Al Franken’s book is not “more recent.” It was originally published in 1996.

      • 21 David // 2014.07.14 at 8:13 pm

        Rush wrote two books involving political commentary. One was published in 1992 and the other in 1993.

  5. 22 Laney // 2014.07.10 at 9:58 pm

    Why has the Costco website been down the last two days?

    • 23 Kimberly // 2014.07.11 at 3:26 am

      @Laney – It seems someone changed something and you now have to type in http://www.Costco.com, not just Costco.com, to get the site and not just a “Site Temporarily Unavailable” message.

  6. 24 Michael // 2014.07.10 at 11:25 am

    When was the last time that Costco issued a “pull-order” on ALL copies of a book from a fairly popular author ONE day before the companion movie for the book is released on 1,105 theaters nationwide?

    GOOGLE ( the muti-Billion Dollar global juggernaut) “accidentally” buried the movie so you couldn’t find a theater to see it from 7-2 thru 7-8. Another “coincidence”.

    Saul Alinsky would be proud!

    • 25 Sarah // 2014.07.12 at 9:20 pm

      Because the book did not have enough sales AT COSTCO THAT WEEK to put it in the top 250 titles sold. It’s a pretty automatic process, and it has nothing to do with Amazon or NYT or any other sales outlet. It’s the free market – if it sells, it continues to be stocked. The movie wasn’t out yet so obviously that was not influencing sales. When the movie was launched, sales increased, which is not unusual; the recent death of Louis Zamperini threw “Unbroken” back onto the NYT list because of renewed interest. This whole thing is a non-story.

    • 26 Copeland Cole // 2014.07.14 at 8:54 am

      Any proof to actually back up these ridiculous statements? I won’t hold my breath.

  7. 27 katherine // 2014.07.10 at 11:18 am

    I live in the deep south, well, a huge, international city in the deep south, but the deep south none-the-less. I can tell you that every time I’m at Costco, the books on display are always Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. So, I really don’t think Costco has any agenda…just to sell books. At a fair price.

  8. 28 Eileen // 2014.07.09 at 7:34 pm

    Please don’t turn this into a nasty political fight…

    • 29 Kimberly // 2014.07.10 at 3:01 am

      @Eileen – I’m trying very hard to keep this a mostly civil discussion. I’ve had to delete a number of very unpleasant comments and hope those people don’t come back for a second visit. :-)

  9. 30 Beeblebrox // 2014.07.09 at 1:21 pm

    Oh, and by the way, I’m not saying that Costco was pressured by anyone outside of their corporate suite to pull “America” and certainly not by Costco friend, Barack Obama. If anything, Obama would pressure Costco to pull Hillary’s book. To listen to Ed Klein, he can’t stand her.

    • 31 JimBob // 2014.07.09 at 1:38 pm

      The above comment by Beeblebrox is pointless drivel to inject unrelated assertions into print on this blog.

    • 32 MARK // 2014.07.14 at 9:58 pm

      And how do you back those statements up please?

  10. 33 JimBob // 2014.07.09 at 1:06 pm

    @Beeblebrox, I disagree with your evidence:

    a) No problems with your point a.

    b) You’re opinion is that they pulled it prematurely. There is not enough evidence (at least presented in your statements) to conclude this. My own opinion is that they rotate books weekly and gave it a good 4 weeks of sales time before deciding to take action. The movie came out after their decision, and (I freely admit I’m hypothesising) it may be the case is they weren’t aware the movie was coming? Or perhaps they expected the publisher to market the book and the publisher didn’t because they choose to wait for the movie instead? The point is, the facts here aren’t in evidence and you’re simply making an assumption.

    c) I’d like to see proof that any stock they carry has “marginal profit value”, especially books. You do realize that if you buy books for pennies and seel them for a couple bucks, you’re profit is not marginal but a huge percentage of your investment, right? Even then, if they can make more by putting some other book in that slot of their limited space, I expect they will do so. Regarding your point of loss leaders and safes as a particular example, I’d like to see the evidence showing these items are loss leaders. As far as I’m aware, nothing at Costco is a loss leader that isn’t placed near the door to get people to come in. Further, the situation with limited book sales space may not apply to the shelves for items like safes. Besides, perhaps they acquired those safes for pennies and are selling them for hundreds and therefore the fact that they might only sell one ever 20 days still gives a better profit margin per volume of space than the book in question?

    d) If a “select percentage” (sounds like a euphemism for small percentage) knows this, then how is it also famously known? Also using a term like “bone-headed” to describe an action doesn’t make it sound like you really have “nothing against that choice.” Just saying.

    e) I think the evidence clearly shows they didn’t pull a book that was “more popular” than the others on their shelves. Not if popularity is judged based on past sales rates at least, which is the metric they say they used. Further, I believe the popularity you’re talking about came AFTER they made their decision and told the stores to pull the non-selling stock of the book. I disagree that “upper management” decided to pull it at all. Where’s the evidence of it being upper management? Where’s the evidence of it being other than shelf space reasons either? Because you want to make a mountain out of their action and use it to your political cause’s benefit? I’m not saying I’m right, but just that there’s no evidence you’re right either. If you want to believe there’s some conspiracy, well I guess there’s no stopping you. Certainly lack of evidence isn’t enough to do so. Oh, and “a few days” sounds like spin when the story here seems to say it was all of June. In my book, a few does not equal thirty.

    • 34 Beeblebrox // 2014.07.09 at 1:17 pm

      @Kimberly.

      I stand by my assessment based on observation.

      All we actually really need to know to refute everything you are saying about shelf space is that a dismally unpopular book like “Hard Choices” (#98 at Amazon) is well stocked and continues to remain front and center at Costco. Meanwhile, “America” (#1 at Amazon), got pulled. It would be a major stretch for me to believe that the buying public decided that the place to buy Hillary’s book was Costco but the place to by Dinish’s book was Amazon. That’s not the way the world works.

      Either they are retailing morons at Costco (something I tend not to believe having been a Costco member for about 20 years) or they decided to make a political decision that they are now having to back-track on.

      Either way, yes, it was a bonehead maneuver.

      • 35 Kimberly // 2014.07.09 at 1:25 pm

        @Beeblebrox – I didn’t write the comment to which you are responding.

      • 36 Kimberly // 2014.07.09 at 1:30 pm

        @Beeblebrox – I will point out that “Hard Choices” is actually #2 on the NYT best sellers list this week (http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/combined-print-and-e-book-nonfiction/list.html). Here’s what Amazon lists as the selling statistics for “Hard Choices” at the bottom of the page for the book: #8 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs, #12 in Books > History, #17 in Kindle eBooks > History, #24 in Kindle eBooks > Biographies & Memoirs.

      • 37 JimBob // 2014.07.09 at 1:36 pm

        @Beeblebrox

        You can stand by it, but without evidence it’s just opinion rather than fact.

        I think it’s a well known fact that Costco’s customers are not a balanced sampling of people you meet everyday. One example of that is they pick carefully where to place stores rather than Starbuck’s and McDonald’s apparent plan of place them anywhere we don’t already have one. My point is that the best seller list on Amazon may not have anything to do with what sells at Costco. Your assumption that these customer segmentations must be the same is just that, an assumption. As a counterpoint to your assumption, there’s a comment below from Kimberly where she says “Hard Choices” is #2 on the NYT best seller list and an acknowledgement that Costco actually uses that to help decide what books to stock.

        I think it was a business manoeuvre. No evidence has been presented for anything else. Quit trying to use random events to promote your agenda.

        • 38 Beeblebrox // 2014.07.09 at 1:57 pm

          JimBob says “I think it’s a well known fact that Costco’s customers are not a balanced sampling of people you meet everyday. ”

          Hey JB, this statement is nonsensical. “well known fact”? Costco stores are located in suburban areas throughout the country so obviously it is not a “balanced sampling”. Their customers are middle Americans. Not rich elitists and not the poor. You know, people who aren’t interested in Hillary’s book but are interested in Dinesh’s.

          But this is beside the point. The hard evidence is that Dinesh’s book is a best seller on Amazon. Meanwhile, a publisher can skew the NYT listing by selling its book in bulk to individual buyers (such as unions or other left-leaning groups as was done with “Hard Choices”). Forbes has well documented this practice (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2013/02/22/heres-how-you-buy-your-way-onto-the-new-york-times-bestsellers-list/). Furthermore, the NYT itself often ignores strong sellers like “America” if it chooses to do so. Still in all, “America” will show up in a few days at #17 on their list after being mysteriously missing last week.

          Besides, I have a real hard time believing that Costco a.) allocates shelf space based on the popularity of a book as listed by the NYT given that very few of the books at Costco are even ON the NYT bestseller list and b.), their book buyer is not so clueless as to get sucked in by the NYT list’s known biases.

          The popularity of the movie and companion book is huge. These factors alone should give Costco a reason to showcase the book rather than send it back to the publisher.

          So people can be Costco apologists all they wish. That doesn’t change the facts on the ground. The book IS popular. The movie IS popular. The book IS #1 at Amazon. The book will be at #17 next weekend on the NYT bestseller list.

          Those are all facts. Meanwhile, Costco maintains that they pulled the book because it wasn’t popular. Uh huh, right.

          • 39 Kimberly // 2014.07.10 at 3:17 am

            @B & JB – I wanted to say thank you for having a (mostly) civilzed discussion about this and not just devolving into derogatory personal attacks that have nothing to do with anything but being hateful. It is clear that you’re not going to agree or persuade the other to your point of view but I’m glad that you didn’t do any name calling.

            I think we should all celebrate how nice it is to live in a part of the world where you can each have your own opinions and share them publicly. It’s also great to live in a part of the world where you can have an author and a publisher that can produce books opposing the leadership of the country and no one dies or goes to jail. And it is also wonderful that we live in places where a store like Costco or Family Christian bookstore or anyone else, can sell or not sell what they want, including books for and against the leadership of the country.

          • 40 Sarah // 2014.07.12 at 9:33 pm

            “Costco stores are located in suburban areas throughout the country so obviously it is not a “balanced sampling”. Their customers are middle Americans. Not rich elitists and not the poor. You know, people who aren’t interested in Hillary’s book but are interested in Dinesh’s.” Now THIS statement is “nonsensical”. You are making a blanket statement about “middle Americans”. The reason that people are in Costco is because they are buying a lot of things – groceries, socks, gas – and chances are they are just as apt, if not more so, to pick up the latest thriller or paperback or John Green novel for the kids. I work in suburban “middle America” in a book-related field, and I can tell you from years of daily experiences that their tastes and interests and information wants/needs are quite varied.

          • 41 michelle // 2014.07.12 at 10:46 pm

            I’m an employee. We sold less than 15 copies from june 2- july 6 in our store. I can take a picture of the sales and email it to you if you’d like. Costco doesn’t have time to play political games. There is a reason why we are the number 2 retail company in the nation. We know how to operate a business in the most efficient way possible. Period.

      • 42 Sarah // 2014.07.12 at 9:26 pm

        Um, yes that is the way the world works. Costco – a bricks-and-mortar retailer of all sorts of things – is quite different from Amazon, an online-only retailer of books, which is quite different from the bookstores whose sales reporting forms the NYT Bestseller lists. And Costco’s sales are from a much smaller “universe” than Amazon’s. What sells at one doesn’t necessarily sell the same way at another.

  11. 43 Amy // 2014.07.09 at 1:02 pm

    When I went into my local Costco today I looked over the book section. There were 4 columns and 3 rows of Hillary Clinton’s book piled 12-13 books high. There was not one other book that had such a presence in the aisle. Most books had at most, 2 columns of books (each 12-13 books high). Everything I have read about her book indicates that sales have been quite dismal. Would you really believe there is nothing more to Costco’s decision than poor sales of “America?”

    • 44 Kimberly // 2014.07.09 at 1:24 pm

      @Amy – Well, Hillary Clinton’s book is currently on the NYT best seller list, at number 2, which is what Costco says they use to determine at least some of their book selection. Plus, she went to some of their locations and did book signings, so I imagine that helps sell the book at Costco. I’m not an expert, I can only go by the information I have found online in news articles and in lists of book sales.

  12. 45 j // 2014.07.09 at 12:37 pm

    Very well said Kimberly, but the problem is a % of people will not see that & has no clue how Costco actually operates it’s business. Sad thing is they never will because most will be closed minded how they operate due to this topic!

  13. 46 Beeblebrox // 2014.07.09 at 11:48 am

    @Kimberly. I did read your post and it is well written and all seems very reasonable – except that you summarize it by concluding that Costco is not being political. The evidence against that assessment is:

    a.) they bought the book in the first place based, clearly based on a business consideration. They didn’t have to (just like the Christian bookstore is under no obligation to carry any given book) but did anyway.

    b.).Once they decided to stock the book, pulling it prematurely – that is, just as it was getting public interest – is not just a dumb retailing move but also smacks of censorship. The movie is doing very well and normally, interest in a book related to a movie FOLLOWS interest in the movie. Costco knows this but they chose to pull it anyway despite the promise of future sales.

    c.) Costco carries lots of books that have marginal profit value. Costco acquires this stock at pennies on the dollar and can make a few bucks on each piece regardless of of popularity. Alternatively, Costco carries loss-leader titles so that they can provide a variety of books that otherwise people may not have specifically sought out at other retailers. This is actually part of the Costco business model. They carry food, appliances, tools, and other commodities, but then they also carry large safes for example. Something that may get purchased only rarely.

    d.) Costco ownership is famously left-wing. A select percentage of the buying public knows this so doing a bone-headed maneuver like pulling “America” just further reinforces the idea that Costco doesn’t want to promote views that are not in keeping with their own. Again, I have nothing against that choice. It’s theirs to make. It’s stupid, but it’s still theirs.

    e.) pulling a book that has more popularity than most of the books on their shelves indicates a bias against the content, I tend to think that the reason the book was on their shelves at all is that the book buyer for the company made a business choice and stocked it based on her knowledge of potential sales. Only later, did upper management decide to pull it. The question is why? Based on what we know, they didn’t pull it for “shelf space” reasons since there is a lot of crap on their book shelves. They pulled it, in the opinion of many observers, because somewhere in the upper echelons of the company, a political choice was made. This is the only thing that makes sense since you don’t just buy books, put them on the shelf for a few days, and then pull them off the shelf just as the subject matter is reaching the consciousness of the buying public.

    Interestingly enough, Costco has done conservatives a favor. It was not widely known how leftist the Costco leadership is. Now people know and can shop or not shop at Costco based on their own reasons.

  14. 47 Kimberly // 2014.07.09 at 11:12 am

    To the very unpleasant person that wrote the hateful comment that I trashed deleted: I’m not a liberal, I’m not 50+, and I do donate money, goods, and time to charities and have for years and years. The reasons why I have no children are certainly none of your business but I will tell you that you are grossly off the mark with your reasoning. It is clear that you are just the kind of over the top, reactionary, hateful type that I wanted to avoid having comment on my blog.

  15. 48 Beeblebrox // 2014.07.09 at 10:49 am

    The problem with Costco’s excuse about it “not selling well” is that most of the books they have are far from best sellers. Most are not on any list (NYT, Amazon, Kindle. etc.).

    They also made a decision to pull it before the big push for the movie happened.

    My opinion; the buyer made a mistake in ordering the book in the first place. She should have known that the owners would not approve. Now they have egg on their face and probably have lost a lot of customers in the process.

    Look at it another way, even if the book sold ZERO copies, the fact that they are carrying it would indicate to a vast number of their customers that they are even-handed given that they are continuing to carry Hillary’s unpopular book.

    Costco is a known left-wing retailer so they need to always be working to at least appear somewhat neutral.

    • 49 Kimberly // 2014.07.09 at 11:01 am

      @Beeblebrox – I think you are certainly entitled to your opinion. As I stated in my post, that you probably didn’t read, Costco sells lots of books on both side of the political spectrum, so I don’t buy that there is any type of political motivation involved in this decision I think it is all about sales or lack of sales, as the case may be.

    • 50 Sarah // 2014.07.12 at 9:37 pm

      They aren’t in business to make a political statement or “prove” anything. They are a for-profit business. They are stocking what their customers want, and it often isn’t bestsellers – cookbooks, kids books, the latest thriller or celebrity tell-all – but these titles sell in the store. You are looking for a conspiracy where there is non.

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