'Go The [Expletive] To Sleep' Rules Amazon's Bestsellers List

May 18, 2011

The amazing story of an puckishly profane storybook has gone on for more than a week.

We can't ignore Go the [famous four-letter expletive] to Sleep any longer.

As the Los Angeles Times writes this morning:

"The No. 1 book on Amazon.com isn't Bossypants by Tina Fey or Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris — the top New York Times bestsellers this week. Topping the Amazon list is a picture book from a little-known publisher that won't be available until June."

Indeed, Go the [#$%@] to Sleep is Amazon's top seller. It was No. 1 last week as well. And it's only been known about since April 23, when author Adam Mansbach gave a 10-minute reading "at an art salon in Philadelphia," the Times says. Copies (pdf versions) hit the Web soon after.

The hook, as The Guardian says, is that the book "combines cutesy rhymes with expletive-ridden pleas" and appeals to every parent who's ever been desperate to get their child to settle down for the night.

A sample:

"The cubs and the lions are snoring
"Wrapped in a big snuggly heap.
"How come you can do all this other great [expletive]
"But you can't lie the [expletive] down and sleep?"

Mansbach was inspired by some of the struggles he and his wife had when they were trying to get their daughter to settle down.

The way it soared to the top of Amazon's list, says Peter Pachal of PCMag.com, makes the case that companies shouldn't worry about going after those who share such content — as long as they're not trying to profit from it. Those shared pdf copies, he argues, led to the explosion in sales on Amazon.

We predict lots of copies will show up at baby showers.

[Note: Before anyone asks and to hopefully help smooth the comments thread, NPR's policy on "use of offensive language" states that while there are "rare instances where we will permit use of profane or indecent languages for news or programmatic reasons," we generally avoid doing so. In this case, it's pretty easy to figure out what the expletive is, so there's no compelling reason to repeat it.] Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.