Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a California-based marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mark Driscoll, the church’s founding pastor, and his wife Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list.
This is a fairly common scam; political memoirs wind up on the NYT Bestseller lists all the time thanks in part to organizations that buy the books in bulk, just so the politician can claim to be a New York Times bestselling author. Cole Smith says that WORLD obtained a document connecting Mars Hill to a marketing company called Result Source Inc. Cole Smith continues:
Result Source received a fee of $25,000 to coordinate a nationwide network of book buyers who would purchase Real Marriage at locations likely to generate reportable sales for various best-seller lists, including the New York Times list. Mars Hill also paid for the purchase of at least 11,000 books ranging in price from $18.62 to $20.70, depending on whether the books were purchased individually or in bulk. The contract called for 6,000 of the books to be bought by individuals, whose names were supplied by the church. Another 5,000 books were bought in bulk.
Mars Hill would not say whether the funds for the purchase of these books, which would total approximately $123,600 for the individual sales and $93,100 for the bulk sales, came from church funds.
Warren Throckmorton at Patheos notes that Real Marriage was only on the NYT bestseller list for one week. Wow. Would churchgoing Christians really consider this to be the best possible use of Mars Hill funds? You sure could feed a lot of hungry people with two hundred thousand dollars.