A perfect storm of Jesus, social media, culture wars smackdown, and Islamophobia have boosted a scholar’s book about Jesus to bestsellerdom, and the sales and media ops are clicking upward almost as fast as a taxi meter in rush-hour traffic.
Monday’s PW placed Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan (Random House, July) at #7 on its bestseller list. That ranking was attained before Iranian-born author Aslan, whose previous book, No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (2005), has been translated into 13 languages, was interviewed on a program late Friday on FoxNews.com. The interview from the online program went viral over the weekend; social media went nuts, mainstream media paid heed, and the book shot to #2 on the NYT combined print and e-book list for Aug. 4 and #1 on Amazon (as of Tuesday night), where one- and five-star rankings by readers and other interested parties were doing battle.
Late Tuesday, Random House said it went back to print, for a total of 175,000 copies. Aslan’s editor Will Murphy, executive editor at RH, modestly called it a successful launch week and added via e-mail, “We are exceedingly encouraged by the overwhelming interest that Aslan’s biography of Jesus continues to elicit across the country.” Aslan’s dates for today (Wednesday) include the Today show and TheAtlanticWire.