Eric Metaxas says authors buying their way onto bestseller lists is unwise

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Christian Today

Following the revelation that Mars Hill bought Mark Driscoll’s way onto the New York Times bestsellers list, author Eric Metaxas has denied defending the right to do so.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Metaxas, himself a bestselling author, appeared to support Driscoll’s strategy. He is quoted as saying: “Anyone thinking there is something pure about that list does not understand the system and how it works.

“I would even argue that trying to get onto that list is a combination of a realistic sense of the market and good stewardship. When you understand…the Times list is a bit of a game…you realise being on that list has less to do with the actual merit of a book than with other, far less important factors.”

It emerged last March that Mars Hill had paid ResultSouce Inc to bulk-buy Driscoll’s book ‘Real Marriage’, co-written with his wife Grace. Reports suggested that over $200,000 changed hands, though Mars Hill refuted this claim, insisting that the “true cost” of the strategy was lower.

A statement released by the church admitted that though “not uncommon or illegal”, it was “unwise” to have bought Driscoll’s way onto the list.

Driscoll also wrote a letter to his church saying that “manipulating a book sales reporting system…is wrong.”

In the article published earlier this week, Christianity Today said Metaxas was responding directly to Driscoll’s case: “Eric Metaxas, whose 2010 Bonhoeffer launcher him into national prominence, doesn’t fault Mars Hill staff for using ResultSource…He says they did nothing wrong,” Ken Walker wrote.

However, in a series of tweets posted last night, Metaxas said: “of course “buying” one’s way onto a list is not something I approve of”.

The incident has left Christians questioning the legitimacy of bestsellers lists, and the ethics of manipulating figures. In a blog for RNS, Laura Turner writes: “[It’s hard] to imagine why Christians, who are meant to be marked by humility and gentleness, feel the need to buy their way onto a list, any list.

“You don’t have to be an ascetic to realize that there is something inherently dishonest about this practice. Whether the system is pure, our responsibility as Christians remains the same: You do the work, and you don’t lie about how well it does.”

Turner continues: “When we trust in the means of sharing rather than the goodness of the story, we are selling everything short. When we make excuses because the list isn’t “pure” and because the system can be gamed, we aren’t being true to the story we tell. This all comes because we get too anxious about our platforms and our standing and don’t concern ourselves enough with the truth–the truth about the gospel, the truth about ourselves, and the truth about broken systems.

“The success of your book is never more valuable than who you are as a person, and if you are a person who engages in deception to boost your sales numbers, you ought to take a long, hard look at yourself.”

Source: Christian Today

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