Boing Boing has an interesting post today about a book called “I, Libertine.” As the story goes, Jean Shepherd, a late night radio host in the 50’s, didn’t like how the bestseller lists of the time were compiled. So, he did what any normal radio host from the 50’s would do: He made up a book, including title, plot, and synopsis, and instructed his listeners to go to their local bookstores and ask for it. The idea was that since the bestseller lists were built from not just sales figures but from how often a book was asked for in stores, having lots of people ask for a mythical book would catapult that book to the top of the bestseller lists.
After lots of confused bookstore clerks reported people asking for this strange new book, it actually became a bestseller, and eventually was actually written by novelist Theodore Sturgeon (who was in on the joke). The blurb on the cover: “‘Gadzooks!’ quoth I, ‘but here’s a saucy bawd!'”