Updated, June 28, 5:50 p.m. EST: Despite high presale numbers, publisher Ballantine Books announced Friday afternoon that it has canceled Paula Deen’s multi-book deal, including the upcoming Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Recipes, All Lightened Up after “careful consideration”.
Paula Deen’s new book isn’t officially for sale until October 15. Nonetheless, supporters of the much-maligned celebrity chef and (apparently former) TV show host have pushed it to the #1 spot on Amazon’s best-seller list this week.
Amid revelations that Paula Deen used racial slurs and wanted to host a “Plantation style” wedding featuring black waiters costumed to look like slaves, corporations have come to see Deen as persona non grata. The long list of entities cutting ties with Deen in recent days includes the Food Network, Walmart, Target, Smithfield Foods, and the diabetes-treatment drug maker Novo Nordisk.
There’s one place that Deen is receiving plenty of support, however: Amazon.com. Deen’s new book, Paula Deen’s New Testament, was the site’s top-seller on Thursday and Friday, even though its release date won’t arrive until mid-October. In terms of best-selling authors overall, Deen ranked third on the site.
Now it could be that readers have pushed sales of Deen’s New Testament through the roof because they’re beyond excited to be first to check out “250 lightened-up-but-still-delicious recipes” that Deen created after being diagnosed with diabetes. Far more likely, however, is that people who feel Deen has been treated unfairly are voicing their support via book purchases.
It’s quickly become custom to voice political opinions (or just snarky jokes) via Amazon.com reviews—see the sneakers worn by Wendy Davis, the filibustering Texas politician as the most recent example. And while there are no reviews of Paula Deen’s New Testament because Amazon doesn’t allow reviews to be posted before a book is released, the masses have been offering plenty of opinions—and support for Deen—related to her older books.
Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible, published in 2011, was Amazon’s #2 best-selling book as of Friday, and benefited from loads of five-star reviews posted over the past few days. Here’s a snippet from one:
I am buying it in support of Paula Deen and the injustice that has been dealt to her this past week. Let all the Hypocrites that are without sin, and especially those that have never said anything disparaging, hateful, or cruel in their entire life cast the first stone.
I have purchased this book to demonstrate support for Paula Deen.
This firestorm has been the equivalent of the mob mentality of a modern day lynch mob. Our Judeo-Christian society is based upon the concept of forgiveness or more simply The Golden Rule. It seems that Paula is being punished for admitting an error with honesty.