Last week, Barnes & Noble did a funny thing and classified David Sedaris’s new book of essays, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, under fiction in the weekly best-seller list they send out to publishers. It was a strong move, because Mr. Sedaris had just told Time that he definitely considered it nonfiction. "I’ve always been a huge exaggerator," he said, "but when I write something, I put it on a scale. And if it’s 97% true, I think that’s true enough. I’m not going to call it fiction because 3% of it isn’t true."
And so it sorta seemed like B&N was calling Mr. Sedaris a liar! Except that the day after we reported on their apparent disagreement with the 97 percent rule, B&N’s spokeswoman told Media Mob that the store actually does consider Mr. Sedaris’s essays nonfiction, regardless of where his new book appears on their list.
With this week’s list, it’s been made official: When You Are Engulfed in Flames is No. 1 in nonfiction. Sorry, Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture!
UPDATE: Carolyn Burn, the spokeswoman for B&N, passes on a statement from Tom Burke, executive vice president of e-commerce for Barnes & Noble.com. Mr. Sedaris’s placement on the list sent to publishers last week was an error made by Nielsen Bookscan, not Barnes & Noble. "We provide Bookscan with sales information and Bookscan produces the lists based on this data," Mr. Burke said in his statement. "Bookscan was correcting its own mistake. Barnes & Noble considers When You are Engulfed in Flames a nonfiction title."
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