Paula Deen may be on the outs with her publisher, but the break, it turns out, hasn't been all bad for business. After word broke late last week that Random House was canceling its October-scheduled book by the celebrity chef, Paula Deen’s New Testament, interest rose in Deen's backlist. According to sales figures from Nielsen BookScan, Deen sold a little over 4,000 books in the week ending June 30, up from just over 500 the week before.
After the Random House announcement, a spate of stories hit the Web about the latest dent to Deen's economic empire. (Deen has been dogged, lately, by a loss of corporate sponsors and business partners after it surfaced that she had admitted in a deposition to making racist comments in the past. Before Random House made its call, a number of big box stores said they planned to stop selling Deen's products, including Target and Wal-Mart.) With small updates to the Deen-Random House saga feeding the news cycle--by Monday, word was out that Random House was dropping Deen entirely, after signing her to a multi-book deal in 2012--her fans (or, possibly, detractors) went looking for her older books. The book which saw the most significant spike, selling just over 1,300 copies for the week ending June 30, was Simon & Shuster's 2011 hardcover, Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible. It went on the next week to sell an additional 1,800 copies.
While the fate of Deen's canceled Random House book, Paula Deen's New Testament, is still in limbo--it hit #1 on Amazon, thanks to pre-orders (which Nielsen does not capture), after Random House said it was dropping it--her strong backlist sales may speed up the process of finding a new publisher. Deen's literary agent told PW, late last week, that she was confident another house would pick up the title, but did not offer any specifics.