Confusion Over Publisher of David Barton’s Jefferson Lies on Amazon

Back in August, evangelical publisher Thomas Nelson pulled David Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies, having “lost confidence” in the work. Thomas Jefferson’s beliefs and actions have long been problematic for the US Christian Right, and Barton’s book presented a revisionist picture of the Founding Father that removed well-known difficulties. Alas, however, the publisher eventually decided that “basic truths just were not there” – something they would have known long beforehand had they taken note of Chris Rodda’s tireless debunking of Barton’s pseudo-scholarship. It seems that Thomas Nelson decided to act after conservative Christians raised concerns.

NPR reported at the time:

The book has already been pulled off the Thomas Nelson website, and the publisher is in the process of pulling down its availability as an e-book from retail partners. Publishing rights are being reverted to the author, and the physical copies of the book are in the process of being removed from bookstores.

However, those “physical copies” were sold on to Barton rather than destroyed; Publishers’ Weekly reported that:

Barton told PW he bought back around 17,000 copies of the current edition

Barton also told PW that once these had sold out there would be a new edition, and that he was in “negotiations” with “Mercury Ink, Glenn Beck’s publishing arm”; Beck had provided a foreword for the book, and Barton had helped to make the Mormon Beck acceptable to the Christian Right.

The announcement of negotiations with Mercury Ink was a bit of a letdown, given that Barton had promised that a “much larger national publisher and distributor” than Thomas Nelson would take over the book; Mercury Ink has a link to Simon & Schuster, but its list is small and consists of items such as an End Times thriller series by a Utah congressman (de-Mormonized from an earlier edition for a wider audience).

However, Chris Rodda noted in November:

…Barton’s book is once again available from Amazon, and the publisher listed in the info on the book’s Amazon page is none other than Barton’s very own WallBuilder Press. In other words, Barton’s even bigger publisher is himself.

Another promise Barton made was that twenty pages of material that Thomas Nelson allegedly omitted from his book were going to be put back in in the next edition. These allegedly missing twenty pages were described by Barton as additional documentation that was going to prove that his book was accurate, and would clear up everything.

I just ordered a copy of this apparently new edition of The Jefferson Lies from Amazon to see if it is, in fact, a new edition and if those allegedly missing twenty pages of additional documentation have been put back in as Barton promised.

It is not a huge surprise to discover that the book Chris received appears to be one of the 17,000 old Thomas Nelson copies rather than a new edition. She added:

If Barton wants to sell off the copies he has of the Thomas Nelson edition of his book on Amazon, he needs to do it like everybody else — as a third party seller. I’ve already sent Amazon a correction of the publisher via their automated system, informing them that the publisher of the book they’re selling is Thomas Nelson and not WallBuilders Press.

Chris now reports that the publisher listing on Amazon has been amended back to Thomas Nelson – which is a bit awkward for the publisher, since they’ve supposedly “removed” the book from bookstores. So why was the book being presented incorrectly as a new “WallBuilders Press” edition in the first place? Surely, Barton hasn’t been using Jefferson’s famous scissors to excise the Ninth Commandment?