The Daily Beast has compiled bestselling fiction and non-fiction lists for 17 American cities. While most of the fiction lists are pretty interchangeable- lots of Dan Brown, Kathryn Stockett, James Patterson, and Stephen King- there is significant regional variation on the non-fiction lists. Some of it makes sense. You’d expect Larry Bird and Michael Symon to sell well in Boston and Cleveland respectively, and naturally Lone Star Staters are interested in reading a book about “the rise and fall of the greatest Texas oil fortunes.” But why is Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto such a hot title in left-leaning San Francisco? Oppo research, maybe?
One title that jumped out at me was Dr. Zhi Gang Sha’s Divine Soul Mind Body Healing and Transmission System Special Edition: The Divine Way to Heal You, Humanity, Mother Earth, and All Universes, which is apparently just hopping off the shelves, but only in Atlanta. I’ve never read the book, but for some reason it didn’t sound like bestseller material to me, and when the Internet informed me that Dr. Sha “claims ‘the Divine’ has given him the power to download ‘soul software’ and heal a range of ailments” I became even more suspicious. Turns out, and here I quote Dr. Sha’s Wikipedia page:
Each of the book releases has been accompanied by a Book campaign, wherein followers could obtain services by purchasing an equivalent value of books on a certain day, and have [thus] achieved bestseller status on Amazon.com, New York Times, USA today etc. for a few weeks each…
Dr. Sha claims that the Divine directly told him about/how to do book campaigns on May 24,2004, a process he calls “soul marketing.”
Sounds like The Divine really knows how to move product.
You might, nay, you DO want to check out this short but vastly entertaining Wired article, written before the book’s release, which features a video of an actual soul software download. Or, if you’re strapped for time, read this excerpt:
“As an objective scientist, you have to look at the real results,” says Dr. Malcolm Ing, an ophthalmologist who researched patients with severe eye problems treated by Sha. “Frankly, none of the patients got any improvement. But they all appreciate his efforts.”
-Norm De Plume