food

Paula Deen cookbook surges to No. 1 on Amazon amid controversy

June 27, 2013 at 10:11 AM ET


Video: Controversy is still swirling around celebrity cook Paula Deen as several prominent corporations have severed ties with her, but her fans are jumping to her defense, flocking to her restaurant and making her book a hot seller on Amazon. Carson Daly reports.

UPDATE: On Friday, Ballantine Books cancelled its multibook deal with Paula Deen, including “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up.”

Several companies have already terminated or suspended business relationships with Paula Deen in the controversy over her use of racial slurs, yet sales of the celebrity chef’s upcoming cookbook have skyrocketed.

Dean’s latest book, has jumped all the way to No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller’s list and No. 7 on the Barnes & Noble Top 100 in advance of its scheduled release. The book, published by Random House, is still scheduled to be released on Oct. 15, according to Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely,’’ Applebaum said in a statement to TODAY.com.

The surge in sales comes at a time when Deen has already been dropped by the Food Network, Smithfield Foods, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Caesars Entertainment and most recently, Target, which announced Thursday that it will phase out the Paula Deen merchandise in its stores as well as on Target.com. Also on Thursday, Novo Nordisk, the maker of diabetes drug Victoza, announced that the company and Deen have mutually agreed to suspend their patient education activities "while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed."

"Novo Nordisk would like to acknowledge Paula’s involvement in our 'Diabetes in a New Light' campaign, where she has helped make many people aware of type 2 diabetes and the lifestyle changes needed to control this serious disease,'' the company said in a statement Thursday.

The increase in book sales is the latest sign of support from her fans amid the controversy. It’s clear they are ordering her new book for more than just tasty recipes.

“I don't normally buy items for a political statement but this time I have,’’ one Amazon reviewer wrote. “Paula has freedom of speech and I have the power of the buck. Today I bought this book AND a box of Cheerios (in support of their ad that contains a mixed race marriage). Time for American [sic] to grow up beyond the age of ten years old, get over the political correctness crap and get on with life.”

“Like the last reviewer I have purchased this book in support of Paula Deen, who has been made a scapegoat by the American public,’’ wrote another reviewer. "What really gets me is the hypocrisy behind it all! We've all made mistakes, stuck our foot in our mouths, said things we wished we hadn't, wishing we'd lived up to our better selves. I don't care if she is a public figure, she's human for God's sake!”

“Political correctness is just tyranny with manners,’’ another reviewer posted. “I'm glad her book sales soared 1300%. Where are the rappers being scrutinized for using the N word? They use it in every song, no matter what color they are, and face ZERO repercussions. It doesn't matter where you use it, saying it is bad in ANY case. The double-standard is entirely obvious, and plain wrong.”

In an emotional interview on TODAY Wednesday, Dean said she is not a racist, that she does not agree with the Food Network’s decision to terminate her contract, and that she was unsure whether the N-word was offensive to black people.

The fallout began with a legal deposition on May 17 that went public early last week in which she admitted to using the N-word and considered throwing a “plantation-style” wedding. She failed to appear for a scheduled interview on TODAY on June 21, then issued a series of apology videos on YouTube the same day.

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