Christian Retailing

Mark Driscoll relinquishes best-seller status, quits social media Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Thursday, 20 March 2014 12:25 PM America/New_York

RealMarriage-webMark Driscoll personally replied March 18 to the latest controversy surrounding his book, Real Marriage (Thomas Nelson), co-authored with his wife, Grace. In an open letter addressed to Mars Hill Church, where he serves as senior pastor, Driscoll responded to criticism about a marketing firm his church used to help Real Marriage hit best-seller lists.

In the letter, Driscoll said that he has instructed his publisher to cease using “No. 1 New York Times best-seller” on book covers and marketing materials for his titles. 

Mars Hill reportedly paid a total of $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ResultSource for the orchestration of a “best-seller campaign … intended to place Real Marriage on the New York Times best-seller list.”

While not illegal, this sort of campaign is frowned upon by many in the industry as unethical and dishonest, as its purpose is to purchase large numbers of the book in a short period of time to artificially inflate sales numbers and “game the system,” in the words of a March 6 Los Angeles Times article on the subject.

“[A] marketing company called ResultSource was used in conjunction with the book Real Marriage, which was released in January 2012,” Driscoll’s letter reads. “My understanding of the ResultSource marketing strategy was to maximize book sales, so that we could reach more people with the message and help grow our church. In retrospect, I no longer see it that way. Instead, I now see it as manipulating a book sales reporting system, which is wrong. I am sorry that I used this strategy, and will never use it again. I have also asked my publisher to not use the ‘No. 1 New York Times best-seller’ status in future publications, and am working to remove this from past publications as well.”

Though Mars Hill responded to the controversy last week, the open letter represents Driscoll’s first public remarks on the subject since news of the ResultSource campaign broke.

With Internet message boards still buzzing about other Driscoll controversies, including allegations of plagiarism in some of his other works and a handful of tweets that made him the target of backlash on Twitter and elsewhere, the author also announced that he will be abandoning social media for the remainder of the year. Mars Hill staff members will continue to post links to his sermons and other materials he creates, though Driscoll himself will apparently stay off those channels in order to “reset his life.”