Cooking the Books

The revelation last week that WashingtonPost reporter David Vise may have bought and returned thousands of copies of his own book in the hopes of boosting it onto the nation’s best-seller lists makes you wonder: What do best-seller lists really mean, and to what lengths will an author go to be on one? Back in 1998, Slate’s Eliza Truitt explained how these lists really work and why what they are most likely to reflect is “the amount of money spent to publicize the books that wind up on them.”