For Reza, Even Bad Publicity is Good…

Proving, once more, that junk sells.

It’s a marketing triumph no book publicist or agent could have dreamt up: appear on Fox News, patiently endure a markedly confrontational line of questioning about one’s religious affiliation, and wait for the whole thing to go viral.

But it’s precisely what has happened for Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American scholar of religion, whoappeared on a weekly Fox News webcast on Friday to promote Zealot, his controversial new biography of Jesus, only to be asked—repeatedly, for several minutes—why he, a Muslim, would be writing about Jesus. After the interview made its way to BuzzFeed and racked up four million page views, The Atlantic Wire’s Connor Simpson predicted that the unexpected blowup would be good news for Reza Aslan.

He was right.

Since Sunday, Zealot has been perched at the No. 1 slot on Amazon’s best sellers list, bumping last week’s media sensationRobert Galbraith’s J.K. Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, out of the way. (Though unlike The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was lodged in obscurity before the revelation that Rowling had written itZealot was selling reasonably well before this round of press, The New York Times points out.)

Yes, junk sells.  But within a month the book will be in the bargain bin for a dollar and then you’ll find it scattered across the country in Goodwill stores and used as a doorstop by its formerly enthusiastic consumers.  And Reza will laugh all the way to the bank and Fox’s stupidity made it possible.

He should go back to Fox and thank them.