Anyone got the numbers?

Richard Murphy, the author of bestselling book The Joy Of Tax,

I know that Shaxson claimed best seller status for 8k copies of his last book. Something h was, unbelievably, paid £40k to write.

But seriously? Ritchie’s Joy of Tax a best seller? Anyone got the numbers?

Or are we talking about one week in “Amazon’s top ten sellers of not very coherent books on left wing economics” type best seller.

We know damn well it’s not Owen Jones style sales because we would have been told. Heck, we would have been told about 5k sales.

And a Murphanathema:

But you cannot have two currencies in one country


How many currencies do we actually use in the UK? Airmiles, euros, dollars, pounds, LETS, they’re all currencies and you can get someone or other (at howlingly bad exchange rates sometimes, to be sure) to sell you pretty much anything for any of them.

Legal tender…..but I know of places with more than one legal tender.

What does he mean?

26 thoughts on “Anyone got the numbers?”

  1. It is currently 29,849th on That’s not so great. My only book got to ~10,000th on Amazon in first 2 weeks. But then it did cost £70. Sold a few thousand.

  2. When doing some Xmas shopping in Waterstones I noticed a pile of copies. There was one of the handwritten “recommended by Waterstones staff” notes beside it. Can’t recommend exactly what it said but along the lines of “Murphy is a genius”.

    I seem to remember years ago someone at Samizdata writing up their own cards for the like of Chomsky books and putting them on the shelves. I was sorely tempted to do the same.

  3. As Frederick says it’s at 29K in Amazon UK. Compare this with my wife’s book which is at 25K. If you can infer total sales from a snapshot Amazon ranking last year she sold ~1,300 copies of which about half were on Amazon.

    Her book has been in print about eight years, it sold 4K in its first year which saw it peak at about 700 on Amazon UK.

  4. “But you cannot have two currencies in one country”

    Not hard to understand his point, once you start from the right place. Money is a (joo-ish, natch) fiction. Currencies are not money, they’re tools the government puts in place to allow transactions to take place. Therefore, all currencies (of whatever type) within a single country, are actually one currency, and any difference between them is no more significant than the difference between an old tenner and a new one.

    If this was just a logic game, Murph would almost be good at it.

  5. My last one got remaindered after 700 copies sold out of 1,000 printed. I have no doubt that Murph has sold more than that. But bestseller?

  6. [wikipedia]
    “Steinberg defined a bestseller as a book for which demand, within a short time of that book’s initial publication, vastly exceeds what is then considered to be big sales.”

    About the widest possible accurate description based on the sales-principle I could find.

    If he could get a couple of college/uni Friends to include it in their “recommended reading” list for students, and other such assorted “Network Leverage” among his own Fanbois he may have been able to wrangle say.. 2000-3000 sales between release and now?

    Given it’s niche and what you’d expect of sales of a book about tax theory ( real pageturner, that subject… 😉 ) any sales above a double handfull would be “good uptake”, couple 100 would be “excellent” .

    So “bestseller” may be applicable, for a given value of sales..

  7. It’s leaping off the shelves at Waterstones . . . . and onto the shelves at Oxfam, with 97% of the pages unread.

  8. Dover and Calais operate with 2 currencies, as do ferries and planes, and cities close to international borders with different currencies. Hell you can use dollars, euros or roubles in St Petersburg. Euros and dollars are accepted in London. What is this nonsense?

  9. “But you cannot have two currencies in one country”

    Obviously you can. There are plenty of countries where ‘foreign’ currencies quite legally operate alongside the ‘host’ currency. You see the signs here in the UK. Euros and $ accepted.

    If he means one country will only issue one currency, well, so what? What’s the point of saying that? Why the fuck would a government issue two currencies? It sounds like one of those meaningless, pointless utterances Murphy comes out with now and again which is supposed to ‘prove’ something but means nothing.

  10. Latvia operated quite happily with two currencies during the changeover from Lats to €uros. Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall Russia had Rouble shops and hard currency shops, in the mid-90s virtually anybody could have a $ or a Rouble bank account (many had both).

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I get paid in dollars, deposited into a dollar-denominated account. When I withdraw money from the ATM, I am given the choice of dollars or colones. You can buy things in the supermarket with dollars, which is about as good an operational definition of a currency as I can think of. Dollars are even used in settlement of government debts here, such as stamp fees for paperwork.

    In Panamá, the dollar is fixed 1:1 with the balboa. Banknotes are dollars, coins are Panamanian.

    Do his ignorance and parochialism know no bounds?

  12. Apparently, you can’t have two currencies in one country because…

    “Try effective macroeconomic management when it happens
    You will find it is associated with low tax yields, high levels of corruption, massive inequality and low levels of GDP per head”

  13. I think an IEA monograph print run is 3,000. Yes a lot of those are given free to subscribers, but that seems a good lower benchmark for a focused political economics book.

  14. Speaking of best sellers, I notice My Struggle by a little-known German watercolourist is doing better than expected.

  15. Doesn’t Zimbabwe currently have a basket (case) of currencies? I remember just recently reading that they added RMB to an official currency list or something.

  16. Last time I was in Basel, most shops were happy to take euros as equal to SFr (their true value was a couple of cents more).

    Entirely off-topic economics question: Basel is (unsurprisingly) eye-bleedingly expensive – everything costs around double what you might expect. I appreciate that Swiss wages are equivalently high, but why do the locals do any shopping there, when France and Germany are a short tram-ride away?

  17. DIdn’t the USSR effectively have two currencies, the ordinary rouble for the proles and a special foreign rouble for international trade, tourists and the nomenklatura.

    In fact, were there more than two? Think there might have been different types of foreign rouble.

  18. I think I have it: Murphy is thinking of Gresham’s law:

    Gresham’s law is an economic principle that states: “When a government overvalues one type of money and undervalues another, the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear from circulation into hoards, while the overvalued money will flood into circulation.”[1] It is commonly stated as: “Bad money drives out good”.

    This law applies specifically when there are two forms of commodity money in circulation which are required by legal-tender laws to be accepted as having similar face values for economic transactions. The artificially overvalued money tends to drive an artificially undervalued money out of circulation[2] and is a consequence of price control.'s_law

  19. There is some Joy in Tax.

    That awful incompetent bitch Lin Homer is stepping down from head of HMRC.

    She has quite a track record of mismanagement in all the different posts she has held. Unbelievably, this level of incompetence merited elevation to damehood in the New Years Honours

  20. Brazil explicitly used two official currencies to defeat hyperinflation. Tim Harford devotes most of a chapter to it in the excellent (and genuinely bestselling) “The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run (or Ruin) and Economy”

    It would be expecting far too much for Ritchie to actually read something like that, however.

    (I always recommend to any layperson interested in economics that they read Harford’s “Adapt” and “The Undercover Economist Strikes Back”.)

  21. Andy Cooke:

    Yes, Harford writes clearly and entertainingly.

    I seem to remember Ritchie denouncing him as a neoliberal (or similar), so that’s another tick in the box for him.

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