The Brief, Tumultuous Reign Of An Erstwhile Best-Seller : The Two-Way For a while Thursday, Lani Sarem's debut, Handbook for Mortals, stood as the reigning best-seller in young adult literature. Within hours, it had been removed from the list entirely. What happened?
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The Brief, Tumultuous Reign Of An Erstwhile Best-Seller

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The Brief, Tumultuous Reign Of An Erstwhile Best-Seller

The Brief, Tumultuous Reign Of An Erstwhile Best-Seller

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now a book mystery, not a mystery book. "Handbook For Mortals" is actually a fantasy paranormal romance. It hit the top of the most recent New York Times young adult best seller list, which seemed odd because not many people had ever heard of the book. NPR's Colin Dwyer takes it from there.

COLIN DWYER, BYLINE: For a while yesterday, the little-known debut stood on top of the world. Then a few people on Twitter took notice. That includes Phil Stamper, who also writes young adult fiction. He was puzzled. The book had very few reviews. Its publisher, GeekNation, had never put out a book before. So Phil put his doubts in a tweet.

PHIL STAMPER: Pretty much immediately, more people in the publishing industry latched onto that and was like, I had the same thought. And we were just talking about that last night and, you know, on and on.

DWYER: Pretty soon, Phil and another Twitter detective got notes from booksellers. The stores said they had gotten calls asking if they reported their sales to The New York Times. When they said yes, the callers placed bulk orders for the book. By midday, The New York Times noticed the Twitter hubbub. The paper removed the book from the best seller list after investigating, quote, "inconsistencies."

The book's author, Lani Sarem, denied the accusations. She told NPR the book has just been promoted in unconventional ways. And it's likely we haven't heard the last of "Handbook For Mortals." Before the book was even released, the publisher announced a film adaptation. Colin Dwyer, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAVID HOLMES' "STORY OF THE INK")

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