In what's being dubbed the "law of repulsion", millions of people who purchased best-selling author Rhonda Byrne's The Secret hoping to get rich by simply thinking about it, are now demanding refunds in the hope that they can use the money help pay bills.
According to the trade group, American Booksellers Association, over two million book buyers have returned the self-help guide since its release.
"People are bringing the book back in droves", stated Oren Teicher, CEO of the ABA. "The biggest returns obviously have come in the last year", he continued.
Wishful thinking seems to be taking a big hit during this economic downturn, and it's the struggling independent booksellers who are taking the brunt of the backlash. "The returns have really hurt my business", said Dawn Sunshine, owner of Dawn of the New Age Bookstore in Sedona, AZ. "My store specializes in magical thinking, and I just can't afford for people to stop believing in it. What if all of a sudden they stopped believing in astrology, crystal healing, and Tarot cards too? I'd be out of business."
Used copies of the book are piling up in libraries as well, and librarians are at a loss as to what to do with them. "We could just put several copies of it on the shelves, like we do with Kevin Trudeau's books, but we'd still have a surplus", said Jo Anne Mondowney, Executive Director of the Detroit Public Library. "We've tried to donate them to other public libraries, but they're having the same problem. Since burning them is not an option, I guess we'll just have to give them to area schools." Auction sites are also noticing an increase in sellers trying to rid themselves of the book and accompanying DVD. Most of them, however, are only going for ninety-nine cents or less, hence, the rush to the brick and mortar outlets for a better deal.
A publishing phenomenon when it came out in 2006, mostly thanks to Oprah Winfrey (who claimed to have unknowingly used the techniques to manifest her billions), the appeal of the book seems to have worn off as of late. Based on the law of attraction, which states that 'like attracts like', the author claims that the greatest minds in history have all used this technique to become successful beyond their wildest dreams which, ironically, negates its basic premise. But no matter, its message of just "think it and it will manifest", spoke to millions of Americans who hated the idea of actually having to work for their success. Now that so many have no work at all, they're seeing the book as a way to finally make a little money to makes end meet. Bob (not his real name), sums up what many others are feeling, "You know, I really wanted to believe that all I had to do was change my thinking to get out of poverty. I tried thinking myself rich, I really did, but all that happened was I kept getting poorer. Maybe by selling the book I can eat tomorrow."
Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, isn't at all surprised by the sudden turnaround. "I find it highly ironic that the economy tanked just as people we're buying into this belief system. I'm glad people are waking up, I'm just sad to see that it took the harsh reality of the real world for people to do so."
Calls for comment from Rhonda Byrne have so far gone unanswered. Her rep simply stated, "Ms. Byrne cannot, according to her belief system, acknowledge anything negative or critical of her work or in the world at large." A spokesman for Prime Time Productions, the publisher, did have this to say, "We, Ms. Byrne et al, stand behind the science propounded in the book. It's not our fault so many have failed to find success, or that the economy faltered after its publication. This just goes to prove what Bob Proctor said when he pointed out that only one percent have all the wealth. They have it because they know The Secret." Calls to other participants in the book and film have also gone unanswered, probably due to the reasons stated above, however, the film's Genie did respond by constantly repeating the phrase, "Your wish is my command."
As of this writing Rhonda Byrne has published a sequel called, The Power, and has plans for a future compendium of New Age Thought under the title, How To Get Rich By Teaching Others How To Get Rich, due out sometime next year.