HOW TO CREATE A BEST SELLER (WHEN NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR BOOK)…. Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R) recognizes the expectation facing all presidential candidates — he needs another book. Just as importantly, he needs it to look like a successful book.

In 2007, in advance of his first national campaign, Romney published Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games. This year, he released No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, which actually managed to reach #1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

Who are these mysterious people, rushing out to purchase Romney’s silly text? Well, it’s a funny story, actually.

Mitt Romney boosted sales of his book this spring by asking institutions to buy thousands of copies in exchange for his speeches, according to a document obtained by POLITICO. […]

The hosts ranged from Claremont McKenna College to the Restaurant Leadership Conference, many of whom are accustomed to paying for high-profile speakers like Romney. Asking that hosts buy books is also a standard feature of book tours. But Romney’s total price — $50,000 — was on the high end, and his publisher, according to the document from the book tour — provided on the condition it not be described in detail — asked institutions to pay at least $25,000, and up to the full $50,000 price, in bulk purchases of the book. With a discount of roughly 40 percent, that meant institutions could wind up with more than 3,000 copies of the book — and a person associated with one of his hosts said they still have quite a pile left over.

You don’t say.

It’s a reminder that the appearance of conservative books on the best-seller list should generally be taken with a grain of salt. One might see a book like Romney’s atop the list and assume he has a real base of support — which is precisely the appearance his team hopes to create. But in reality, Romney forced institutions to buy thousands of copies, inflating sales totals to almost comical heights.

By most accounts the book is, as a substantive matter, rather ridiculous. Worse, it was probably ghost-written. But forcing bookstores, universities, conferences, and private groups to make it a best-seller, whether the public wanted to buy it or not, is kind of sad.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.