NEW YORK – Big-box wholesaler Costco pulled Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, “America: Imagine a World Without Her,” just after the nationwide release of the companion movie, but Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti told WND the decision was not motivated by political considerations.
The book, heavily critical of Barack Obama, was officially released June 2. A corporate decision to return the books was issued July 1, just as it is about to debut on the New York Times bestseller list.
Galanti confirmed to WND the “pull order” was in effect and that D’Souza’s book is in the process of being removed from Costco stores this week, with the goal to have all copies of D’Souza’s book out of Costco stores nationwide and shipped back to the vendor no later than July 15.
He said the decision to pull D’Souza’s book was not political but was based solely on sales, arguing Costco’s national goal is to market books that show up on the New York Times bestseller list.
The book will make the New York Times list July 13.
Galanti could not explain why Costco book buyer Pennie Clark Ianniciello decided to pull the book just as D’Souza’s movie was being released and the national marketing campaign on the book and movie switched into high gear.
The movie “America,” which has been given a rare “A+” CinemaScore by audiences, opened in 1,105 theaters nationwide to roughly $4 million over the five-day July 4 holiday weekend.
WND first reported Monday that the retail giant had issued the unusual pull order for a new book that is rising on the bestsellers lists. It is currently ranked No. 1 at Amazon.
The book, in this midterm election year, is a strong rebuttal of the progressive ideology behind President Obama’s policies, which have been supported by Costco co-founder and director Jim Sinegal, a major Democrat donor and a speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that nominated the president. A Washington Post political reporter has noted Obama’s “romance” with the nation’s second-largest retailer.
Costco has sold more than 3,600 copies of “America” nationwide, with about 700 copies sold last week as D’Souza’s film by the same name opened at more than 1,000 movie theaters nationwide.
But Costco’s book department issued the “pull order,” requiring all Costco stores nationwide to remove the book, confirmed Scott Losse, an inventory control specialist in the book department at the Costco Wholesale corporate office in Issaquah, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.
Contacted for a reaction, D’Souza was surprised to learn of the Costco decision.
“If true, this would be very odd,” D’Souza said. “We’re in the process of finding out what’s happening. I look forward to getting to the bottom of this and continuing the strong relationship my publisher and I have always had with Costco and their millions of shoppers.”
Most Costco stores WND contacted Monday had already pulled “America” from the shelves, with others scheduled to remove it with their regularly scheduled inventory changes Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
A few Costco stores told inquirers Monday they were “in luck,” because a handful of books were still available and a few copies remained in the warehouse waiting to be returned. Staffers offered to put aside a book so it could be purchased before all copies were shipped back to the vendor.
WND contacted by telephone and email Costco’s national book-buyer, Pennie Clark Ianniciello, at Costco’s headquarters, but received no response to WND’s questions regarding why D’Souza’s book was being pulled from the shelves just as the companion movie was opening in theaters.
The Washington Examiner reported June 20 that the book sold 4,915 in the first week and 5,592 in the second week but mysteriously was kept off the New York Times bestseller list, where it would have ranked No. 8 and then No. 11 on the June 29 list.
D’Souza told the Examiner: “It’s their newspaper, and they have a right to rig their list anyway they want, but if they are doing it, people should know.”
He said the New York Times list is important to boosting sales.
“It matters to be on it,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to the Hollywood Reporter, lawyers representing D’Souza’s film have demanded that Google correct problems that they say are hampering the ability of consumers to find out where “America” is playing. Google, which has strong Democratic Party ties, is “misdirecting many users who mistakenly believed the film was not playing in theaters,” the lawyers charge in a letter.
‘Major Obama groupie’
Commenting on WND’s story, radio giant Rush Limbaugh called Costco co-founder and director Jim Sinegal “a major, major Obama groupie.”
“He pulled the book. And they’re saying this is not censorship, this is not book-burning. This is just a liberal protecting the man he loves in the White House. That’s all it is. Don’t read anything more into this than there is.
“Here’s the thing about these people,” Limbaugh added. “They are scared to death of any opposition. They simply don’t want to deal with it. They call themselves tolerant. They call themselves open-minded and all this stuff. They’re the most closed-minded, bigoted people you can find and they’re scared to death of anything that’s contrary to what they believe.”
Limbaugh said Sinegal, who retired as Costco CEO in January 2013, “can do what he wants.”
“He owns the store. He can have it ordered out all he wants. I just think all of you who shop at Costco ought to know the kind of people that run the joint and the kind of things that they do,” Limbaugh said.
“It’s not censored at Costco, it just isn’t there,” he said sarcastically. “People have the right to free speech, but nobody has the right to be heard.”
In January, Obama paid a visit to a Costco store in a Washington, D.C., suburb, “proving,” as Jaime Fuller of the Washington Post commented, “that his administration’s romance with the second-largest retailer in America is stronger than ever – and might just be the most successful union of a politician and a supermarket in American history.”
Sinegal spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, which nominated President Obama for a second term. Sinegal, who retired as Costco CEO in January 2013, said Obama’s re-election would be better for businesses than a country led by Mitt Romney. American companies, he said, need “a president who takes the long view and makes the tough decisions,” said Sinegal.
“That’s why I am here tonight supporting President Obama, a president making an economy built to last,” he said.
In total, Costco has given $100,000 to Obama and another $100,000 to Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC.
Sinegal was the author of an email blast sent out by the Obama campaign in July 2012. Obama also held a fundraiser at Sinegal’s house in Seattle, during which the incumbent president said “the story of Costco and everything that you guys have done I think is representative of what America is all about.”
At least one critic of Obama is not seeing his book pulled from Costco. Dr. Ben Carson, frequently mentioned as a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, has a new bestselling book called “One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future” on the shelves. However, Carson sits on Costco’s board of directors.
Many other Costco directors are clearly not in Carson’s political corner. Former Yahoo President Susan Decker contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008 and to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2007, according to campaign-finance website Opensecrets.org.
Galanti gave money not only to Obama’s campaign in 2012, but to Bill Bradley’s in 1999.
Concerned individuals may contact Costco President and CEO W. Craig Jelinek by email or by calling (425) 313-8100 and/or Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Richard A. Galanti by email or by calling (425) 313-8100.