Bent Corydon (1996):
L.Ron Hubbard, Messiah or Madman?
Chapter 27, pp. 268-271. (Mainly from the San Diego Union article 1990).
The L.Ron Hubbard "22 Best Sellers and More To Come"
PR Image Scam: Or How To Be A Bestselling Author By Buying Your Own Books.
I knew something was wrong when walking into a B. Daltons, the same Mission Earth book (Vol. 6) that had been a "bestseller" two weeks earlier had now been drastically discounted. It was being sold for $6.95 marked down from $18.95. That seemed odd. And it happened to each "bestselling" copy of the Mission Earth series.
Conversations with some bookstore managers and owners, and with a former "Bridge" executive, seemed to confirm that Scientology was living up to its "psychological profile" and was using deception to make "in-roads."
In April of 1990 a well researched article by the San Diego Union appeared. It was revealing.
The very extensive article, beginning on the front page, was entitled, Hubbard Hot-Author Status Called Illusion.
The essence of the story was that, beginning with Hubbard's first recent "bestseller," Battlefield Earth, Scientology discovered that it could BUY bestseller status by simply dispersing funds to be used to buy L.Ron Hubbard's books, during a given week, so that a "bestseller" would be created.
And it worked. A VERY expensive PR trick, but nonetheless, TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, it made Hubbard a "best-selling author" many times over.
The Union article begins"
"In 1981, St. Martin's Press was offered a sure thing.
"L.Ron Hubbard, a pulp writer turned religious leader, had written his first science-fiction novel in more than 30 years. If St. Martin's published it, Hubbard's aides promised the firm, subsidiary organizations of the Church of Scientology would buy at least 15,000 copies.
"Battlefield Earth, priced at $24.95, was released the next year in hardcover, rare for a science-fiction title. Despite mixed reviews, the book quickly sold 120,000 copies - enough to place it on the New York Times best-seller list.
"'Five, six, seven people at a time would come in, with cash in hand, buying the book,' said Dave Dutton, of Dutton's Books, a group of four stores in the Los Angeles area. 'They'd blindly ask for the book. They would buy two or three copies at a time with fifty dollar bills. I had the suspicion that there was something not quite right about it.'
"Dutton only suspected what others claim to know for fact. The book's sudden success, say dozens of former Scientologists and book dealers, was the result of a church plan to create the illusion of L. Ron Hubbard as a hot author. The church, they say, sustains the myth - 15 New York Times best sellers and counting - through dubious marketing tactics and the manipulation of an obedient flock of consumers.
Spokeswomen for B. Dalton and Waldenbooks, the nation's two largest book chains, declined to reveal sales figures for Hubbard's books….
"Who buys his books?" said [Waldenbooks spokeswoman] Tyson. "We don't know." A former employee of both chains offered a more detailed answer.
"What we used to see was the L. Ron Hubbard people coming into the chains, buying books out so we'd have to reorder them. Then they'd return them," said Eleanor Lang, a former manager of a B. Dalton store in the New York City area and an ex-employee of Waldenbooks.
"Throughout the '80s, B. Dalton had a liberal return policy," said Lang, now the publicist for the science-fiction publisher Tor Books. "Once a chain store sells through a book, it's on their computer as having been sold. Once on the computer, the computer automatically reorders it."
That might help explain why hardcover copies of the "Mission Earth" series are a common sight these days on remainder shelves. "This month Bridge Publications quietly offered remainder houses 237,848 'Mission Earth' hardcovers," publisher Lyle Stuart wrote last July in his newsletter Hot News, under the heading "That Scientology Scam." "This must be something of a record in the remainder industry."
Bridge's senior vice president Mark McKinstry denied that the publisher buys Hubbard's books to inflate sales.
A spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology also denied that Hubbard's followers are required to purchase his books.
"You can't make anyone buy anything," said Leisa Goodman, from the L. Ron Hubbard Office of Public Relations in Los Angeles. "People spend their money because they want to."
Goodman also denied any official link between the church and Bridge Publications.
"We have a relationship like any client and publisher," Goodman said. "It's just probably closer." Much closer, say former Scientologists.
Vicki Aznaran, the former inspector general of the Religious Technology Center, said the center controls a Scientology network of 419 subsidiary groups, including Bridge Publications. Her claim was echoed by several other former church officials.
In addition, the Religious Technology Center is listed prominently in an internal church document, "The Command Chart of Scientology."
The Religious Technology Center appears at the top of the chart. One level below, within a body called the Watchdog Committee, is the office of the executive director of the Church of Scientology International. And one level below that is Bridge Publications. Appearing on the same level of the chart as Bridge is the church's public relations office.
In a 1989 issue of Hotline, a Church of Scientology newsletter for its publicists, a new public relations strategy was announced: "For the first time in the history of Dianetics and Scientology the PR [Public Relations] positioning of L.Ron Hubbard (LRH) has been established.
"'One of The Most Acclaimed and Widely Read Authors of All Time'.
"For it is LRH's image on which all the rest of our expansion depends. To the degree that LRH is made the stable terminal in society, people will reach for his books and services and we can get them on the Bridge to Total Freedom."
That the survival of planet earth and the spiritual progress of Humankind might be dependent on "making L. Ron Hubbard look good" is absurd to the extreme.
Is there a root or origin to this priority and obsession?
On Sunday the 23rd of June 1990 the Los Angeles Times began its six part series of articles on Scientology. (Including one on Hubbard's bogus "best-seller" status.)
In large print atop a full page devoted entirely to the subject of L.Ron Hubbard, appeared a quote that Scientology has tried desperately to suppress. It may be revealing with regard to Hubbard's earliest and fundamental motives for creating Scientology: "I have high hopes of smashing my name into history so violently that it will take a legendary form…That goal is the real goal as far as I'm concerned."*
So wrote L.Ron Hubbard to his first wife Polly, 8 years before creating the vehicle with he intended to attain not only fantastic personal power during his lifetime, but also kind of immortality.
* In the same letter Hubbard wrote, "things which stand too consistently in my way make me nervous. It's a pretty big job. In a hundred years Roosevelt will have been forgotten - which give some idea of the magnitude of my attempt."