Indeed, if a non-fiction book has 25 000 copies sold in Australia it is a massive blockbuster. I was suspicious when reading through the SMH book section the last couple of weeks and ‘Heaven and Earth’ not being listed in their top-seller list for non-fiction. Being a little more rigorous, Bookscan, which track book sales in Australia doesn’t list it in the top 10 for non-fiction for the month as of the time of this blog entry . Seem a little odd to you?
Further investigation by a publisher friend of mine who is registered to track book sales through Bookscan reveals a big discrepancy between known sales and what Bolt quotes. According to Bookscan there were 3242 total sales for ‘Heaven and Earth’ up until Friday, May 1. That’s sales in all the major booksellers like Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, etc across Australia.
According to my publisher friend, add about 10-15% on that number to capture the sales from book-sellers not part of Bookscan (smaller book chains, university co-ops etc). So the total sales of ‘Heaven and Earth’ book is probably about ~3700.
Looks like a new argument is becoming popular in the anti-science crowd — argument by number of copies sold (or number of blog hits or blog comments). The blog-related version has to be new because of the technology. But the number of copies of book sold seems new. The Berlitz Bermuda Triangle crowd in the 70s, as I recall it, didn’t use it, even though that book sold over 1 million copies. Nor did Velikovsky fans or Von Daniken fans.
But, if one does want to use it, then Velikovsky and Von Daniken (and Berlitz, and “The Jupiter Effect”, and by another order of magnitude “The Late Great Planet Earth) are at least 100 times truer than Plimer’s offering. This usually causes no pause for fans of that argument because they also tend to be believers in such things. Still, for those few it does create a pause, it’d be a good idea to spend more time examining why it is you find one of the set to be reliable but not the others.