Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass, two young journalists notorious for fabricating stories, have something else in common: Both have written highly publicized books that few people are buying.
Blair, a former New York Times reporter, received a six-figure advance for “Burning Down My Master’s House.” Published March 6, the book had an announced first printing of 250,000 and plenty of media coverage, including author interviews with Katie Couric on NBC and Larry King on CNN.
But in its first nine days of publication, the book sold only about 1,400 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan. The book recounts Blair’s rise and fall at the New York Times, which he left last spring after being accused of plagiarism. A review by the newspaper uncovered errors and fabrications in three-dozen stories.
Glass’ “The Fabulist,” a fictionalized version of his downfall at the New Republic, flopped despite an interview on “60 Minutes” and other media coverage. Simon & Schuster, which published the hardcover last May and gave it a first printing of 75,000, has not set a date for the paperback.
The New Republic fired Glass in 1998 after determining there were fabrications in 27 of the 41 articles he had written. His story was turned into an unauthorized film, “Shattered Glass,” which received extensive publicity but did little for sales of the novel.