Despite copious publicity, the unauthorised autobiography of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, published Thursday, September 22, sold less than 700 copies that week, according to Nielsen BookScan. Assange’s autobiography, published by Canongate publishers despite his lack of consent, was subject to much media coverage. Yet Nielsen BookScan, the sales figures monitor, showed readers that week only bought 644 copies of the book.
The Bookseller magazine reported that Assange’s autobiography ranked only 50th best-selling for the week among hardback non-fiction books, 537th among books overall. The Edinburgh-based publishers, Canongate, defied Assange’s wishes about the publication of his personal memoirs, even though he had broken off all involvement with the project and withdrawn from the million-pound contract prior to the book’s release. According to a Guardian source, Canongate used tight security measures to ensure Assange could not prevent its release.
In March, after reading the first draft, Assange informed the publishers he no longer wished to release the book, and on June 7 formally withdrew from the project.Reportedly, the book describes his childhood in Australia; how he came to love computers and became obsessed with hacking; the founding of Wikileaks; and events leading to sexual assault charges against him in Sweden. Assange told Canongate that the book might be used by US authorities seeking to extradite him on possible Wikileaks-related espionage charges. Canongate claim that because Assange settled legal bills with an advance they paid on the book, the contract is still in place.