Amazon's worst-seller

Penny Marshall's memoir sold 2,000 copies—and was banned by bookstores

Amazon, that futuristic pioneer and scourge of old-fashioned media, bet its fledgling publishing business on the star of TV’s Laverne & Shirley. In its attempt to launch the New Harvest publishing group, the online giant put a great deal of money and promotion into Penny Marshall’s autobiography My Mother Was Nuts, its first big entry in the redoubtable celebrity-memoir genre. But the book flopped, selling only about 2,000 copies in its first week. It may be the revenge of the companies Amazon has battered so badly: Barnes & Noble and other brick-and-mortar outlets refused to carry New Harvest books due to what they saw as Amazon’s attempt to drive competitors out of business. Many refused to carry the digital version as well. The boycott has made it difficult for Amazon to attract big-name authors for its original books. Maybe next time, it can at least go with a book from Lenny and Squiggy.

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