After one week, Steve Ballmer by Carlos Verdugo has sold exactly four copies — three to Ballmer’s blood relatives and one to his personal assistant. According to the American Booksellers Association, this is a feat never before accomplished.
“It’s never a good sign when your book has been in the stores for seven days and you still know all of your buyers by name,” said an ABA spokesperson.
While some critics have noted design similarities between Steve Ballmer and Walter Isaacson’s bestseller, Steve Jobs, a Ballmer spokesperson bristled at the notion. “You’re kidding, right? Steve Ballmer is actually two pages longer than the Jobs book.”
This is true, though it should be noted that 368 of those pages contain Ballmer family recipes, and 181 are devoted to essays written by Ballmer in lower and middle school. Researchers could find no intelligible writings from high school or beyond.
The Ballmer tome, printed entirely in Zune-brown ink, had a difficult birth. It took 18 months just to find an author willing to accept the job. Ballmer caught a break when he discovered that Carlos Verdugo, son of his long-time Ecuadorian gardener, was studying English as a second language at South Seattle Community College. Even better, Carlos’s teacher had told him he had “a real knack for storytelling.”
After several meetings between Ballmer, Verdugo and a qualified interpreter, Ballmer decided that Verdugo was the perfect writer. “Señor Ballmer is very great man of history, he puts thoughts in my head, and I write book,” said Verdugo.
Verdugo’s take on Ballmer is based on more than six interviews with Ballmer himself, his colleagues and competitors. The book would also have included interviews with friends of Ballmer, but none could be located.
First reviews of Steve Ballmer are mixed. Those looking for explanations of Microsoft’s strategy or Ballmer’s existence will be disappointed. However, those with limited English skills will appreciate the author’s clear preference for words of two syllables or less.
Steve Ballmer had an initial press run of 812, with distribution among 812 bookstores. After the first week’s flurry of sales, it is now available in 808 stores.
Ballmer’s publicist, Natalia Verdugo (Carlos’s aunt), suggests that if your local store is sold out, you should speak to a manager, who can probably talk another store into giving up their copy.