Costco Relents After Thousands Protest Decision to Pull D'Souza Book

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 07:22 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Thousands of Costco shoppers took to the wholesaler's Facebook page threatening to drop their store memberships after the retailer pulled copies of Dinesh D'Souza's newest anti-Obama book from its shelves, but a company official insists the decision was financial, not political.

And the reaction got almost immediate results as the company announced it would put D'Souza's book, "America: Imagine a World Without Her," back on its shelves, despite, what it says are poor sales.

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"Costco is not a book store. Our book shelf space is very limited," read a statement posted shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday. "We exercise discipline in the best utilization of that limited space based solely on what our members are buying. We can't carry every title that our members are interested in reading. We are constantly monitoring book sales, and make decisions to pull books off the shelves frequently based on sales volume to make room for other titles. Politics or controversy over content do not influence our decisions."

The statement, signed by "Dave," went on to say the movie had renewed interest in the book causing "brisk sales at locations still in stock."

"Therefore, we have made the decision to reorder the book," added Dave.

D'Souza's book was pulled just days after its companion movie "America" was released, reports WND.com. Many people linked the fact that company co-founder Jim Sinegal is a fervent backer of President Barack Obama with the decision to yank D'Souza's book.

Costco had put the book out when it was officially released on June 2, but a corporate decision was made to pull the book on July 1, Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti confirmed.

The book has sold about 3,900 copies at Costco's stores nationwide, with about 700 being sold this past week. But the book is a top-seller for online retailer Amazon, leaving many Costco shoppers confused about why it was pulled from the retailer's shelves.

Galanti said that the company's national goal is to market books that are on The New York Times' bestseller list, but that "America" has not been on the list. A company statement on the Costco Facebook page stated.

But his explanation that it was economics and  not ideology that pushed the decision did little to quell the anger. "You are lying. This is VERY POLITICAL....or you would have pulled Hillary's book...which is tanking in sales," wrote Facebook contributor Julie Ann Busch before the decision to restock the book.

"By refusing to sell an anti-Obama book, you come across as a bunch of self-censoring fascists," added Shobhna Kapoor.

Even after the decision, anger at the company was still showing on the Facebook page. "Your (sic) full of baloney," wrote Linda Marie Hamlet. "The book is high on the best seller list. If you think we believe your twist then you need to look at all the comments and those including me who are pulling our membership. Costly move for you, Costco!!!"

And "Jean Marie" wrote, "Until CEO Jim, the Democrat, acknowledges the error OR resigns, I'll not spend the $9200 that I spent in 2013 at Costco. Also, sold my Costco stock today and advise others to do the same. It ran up today on short covering."

The book's sales are expected to climb as its marketing campaign ramps up with the release of its companion movie, so this may be the week it appears on the important Times list.

However, some argue that the book should already have been there. The Washington Examiner reported in June that D'Souza's book was missing from the Times' list of the nation's top 25 nonfiction books, despite selling 4,915 copies in its first week and 5,592 in the second.

"It's their newspaper, and they have a right to rig their list any way they want, but if they are doing it, people should know," D'Souza told The Examiner.

The movie opened in 1,105 theaters nationally, earning about $4 million over the five-day July 4 holiday weekend. While critics roundly panned the movie, reports Breitbart, audiences gave it a rare A+ CinemaScore rating.

Many people suspect political motives, as Sinegal is a major Democratic donor and supporter of Obama, serving as a speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Obama has returned the speaking favor. After his State of the Union address this year, the president went to Costco to tout raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, and to laud the company's treatment of its workers.

D'Souza's book rebuts Obama's progressive ideology, but he told WND he was surprised to hear that Costco was returning his book to its distributors.

"If true, this would be very odd," D'Souza said. "We're in the process of finding out what's happening. I look forward to getting to the bottom of this and continuing the strong relationship my publisher and I have always had with Costco and their millions of shoppers."

Costco is not the only company causing problems for D'Souza. People are having trouble Googling D'Souza's "America" film, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Attorneys representing the film have sent a letter to Google saying it has been confusing "America" with D'Souza's previous film, "2016: Obama's America," which has been out of theaters for two years. The error, the attorneys say, is "misdirecting many users who mistakenly believed the film was not playing in theaters."

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday that the best way to fight back against the move by Costco is to buy D'Souza's book somewhere else.

"I wouldn't take the time to call Costco or write 'em a letter or any of that," Limbaugh said. 

"I'd just go out and see the movie and buy the book somewhere else. That's the best thing you could do. If you want to send them a letter, go ahead and do it, but it isn't gonna change this guy's mind. They're gonna get your letter and they're gonna laugh at you and they're gonna take great pleasure at how upset you are."

Meanwhile, said Limbaugh, Costco and Sinegal have done "more to spread the word and inform people that this book even exists than the best PR campaign paid for by money could do. This guy has done more to sell the book than he could have if he just shut up and left it alone in the stores. He has created more attention for this book than otherwise would have happened."

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