More on the the uncomfortably hot seat a journalist finds himself in when he losses control of spin.
Here’s my lame opinion (based completly on wild guesses) of what happened: Vise is a good reporter and an excellent promoter who really, really wanted a best seller. He probably thought his previous book was not well promoted. And so, with The Bureau and the Mole: The Unmasking of Robert Philip Hanssen, he chooses a publisher world famous for his promotional skills. But even then, Vise thinks he personally can out-market the profoundly-bad marketers who sell most books. So, like thousands of misguided souls before him, he has a 1999 flash-back and comes up with a plan to sell books on the Internet. He’s embarassed to tell his publisher what he wants to do, so he orders some copies from bn.com. And from then, well, I think it probably went something like Vise’s explanation.
In my opinion, I believe Vise is still probably uncomfortable admitting that his only scheme was simply to make as much money as possible and had nothing to do with “creating community.” I think now he’s embarassed that he looks foolish for not buying the books from his publisher (or from wholesaler Ingram Book Co., for that matter, which has a warehouse within an easy drive of where he lives.) I’m willing to believe he is not guilty of trying to manipulate a placement on the NYT Best Sellers list (although the multiple orders of 999 books seem a bit fishy).
As Vise said to a luncheon I attended Monday, the most calls he’s receiving is from other authors asking him how he did it. That “how to” manual should be his next book.
(Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews is doing a great job following this story.)