The title of the new book by Israeli author Assaf A. Voll, A History of the Palestinian People: From Ancient Times to the Modern Era, quickly hit the bestseller list of Amazon, but you won’t find it there.
“The joke’s run its course,” Voll told Israel Today after Amazon yanked the book only two days after it was published. A copy of the letter from Amazon sent to us by Voll states the reason for removing the book: “We found that your book(s) are resulting in a disappointing customer experience.”
That might be because the book contains 131 blank pages.
Voll saw Amazon’s decision as silly after the online publisher agreed to produce and carry the book in the first place, requiring only that he add watermarks. The only other text appearing in the book is a quote from the “Seinfeld” character George Costanza: “Just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Voll, a former teacher of Jewish history at Haifa University, and currently creative manager in an advertising firm, explained to Israel Today that he got the idea of an empty book about Palestinian history following an opportune meeting in Italy. While there, he heard someone quip that the shortest book in the world must be about Italian bravery. Last March, Amazon published another similar book titled Reasons to Vote for Democrats, which also quickly hit the bestseller list before being just as quickly removed.
The empty book, says Voll, is a challenge rather than insult. People are welcome to contribute a chapter to the still empty pages of Palestinian history, providing it comes with adequate and reliable sources.
Asking what kind of feedback he’s received, Voll told us that except for one very annoyed Harvard professor, most responses were actually quite positive. Unsurprisingly, the stunt was a viral sensation in Israel, where Voll was invited to speak on television and radio programs. And the commotion surrounding the book, which is still available under its Hebrew title, is far from over. Voll never anticipated his antic would reverberate so widely, but now he see that “the story is far from over.”