July 23, 2014
In Colbert Nation vs. Amazon, Edan Lepucki passes the baton
by Julia Fleischaker
Six weeks after enlisting Edan Lepucki into his show’s “war” with Amazon, Stephen Colbert is moving on, and taking the Colbert Nation with him. On Tuesday night, Colbert invited the California author onto The Colbert Report to talk about becoming a New York Times bestseller, thank the Colbert Nation for their support, and pass the baton to a new author. Alexandra Alter at The New York Times gives the backstory:
Mr. Colbert first brought attention to Ms. Lepucki’s book in June when he had another Hachette author, Sherman Alexie, on the show to talk about the fight between Amazon and Hachette. He asked Mr. Alexie to recommend a debut novel to the audience, and Mr. Alexie chose California. Mr. Colbert promoted the novel again on air a few nights later, and recommended the book on Twitter, where he has 6.7 million followers.
Colbert announced on the show that the book will debut at #3 on the bestseller list. After bringing Lepucki out to talk, he asked for a book recommendation—naturally, another debut Hachette author who stood to lose in the Amazon dispute.
She singled out Stephan Eirik Clark’s Sweetness #9. “If you’re looking for another book to bump, that would be the one,” said Mr. Colbert, a Hachette author himself. Mr. Clark’s novel, which Little, Brown will release on Aug. 19, shot up to No. 3 on Powell’s Books’s best-seller list overnight. It was previously unranked. On Amazon, the book is listed as “currently unavailable.”
Sweetness #9 is about a flavor chemist who begins to suspect that one of his creations has some unsettling side effects, including a “general dissatisfaction with life.” (Side effects certainly not to be confused with “a mixture of elation and nausea,” which Lepucki called out as an effect of the Colbert Bump.)
In an odd twist, Tuesday’s night The Colbert Report was actually sponsored by Amazon, in support of its Fire Phone. Greg Bensinger at The Wall Street Journal reached out for comment from all involved, but got none.
The Seattle company ran an ad for the handset during the 30-minute show on Monday, right after a segment in which Colbert promised to “wipe the smirk right off [the Amazon] box’s face.” … The Fire phone Amazon promoted is set to be released this Friday. In the advertising spot, Amazon highlighted the shopping capabilities of the device, including the ease of downloading and storing media and the fact that it is bundled with a year of the Prime unlimited shipping membership, typically $99 per year. An Amazon spokesman said he had no immediate comment, and Hachette spokeswoman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for The Colbert Report didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.