Barnes & Noble Caught in Unfit for Command Crossfire

Posted on August 24, 2004

Barnes and Noble is in a most unenviable position. The company is caught in the crossfire between the Swiftboat Vets and Kerry supporters. The Kerry supporters want Unfit For Command pulled from the bookshelves because of its many factual inaccuracies in what purports to be a work of nonfiction. All the media coverage has made the book a bestseller.

With a first print run of around 40,000, publisher Regnery just wasn't ready for the demand. Now the book is not available at Barnes and Noble outlets. Steve Riggio had to issue a statement saying that they are totally out of books. But Bush supporters are furious, accusing the bookstore chain of liberal bias and of hiding the books. A political bias at a major bookstore chain? You've got to be kidding. Call us cynical, but we think Barnes and Noble -- or Amazon -- or Powell's -- or any corporation would happily sell copies of any book that is sure to make money.

Hide a bestseller? Not in this universe. No doubt, Regnery is printing books as fast as they can. Meanwhile, Amazon.com has suspended its normal practice of banning ad hominen attacks in the review portion of the page selling the book. Since it's an election year, apparently anything goes. The flame wars have already started erupting between the book's supporters and detractors.

Says Amazon.: "[S]hort of obscenities, reviews on this book are now a free-for-all. We take no responsibility for the following discussion. Aren't presidential election years great? Have fun!"

Well, I suppose that's one way of looking at it....



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