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Book Shortage



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I’ve cross-posted this with the Corner.

Instapundit points to some musings about the scarcity of my book. I’ve had similar experiences. I was at the Barnes and Noble in Bethesda (a major DC area bookstore) this afternoon and couldn’t find a copy anywhere amongst several appropriate displays (new arrivals, bestsellers, current affairs etc). The computer said it was in stock upstairs but I didn’t see it. I’ve gotten scads of similar reports from readers. On the on the other hand, I’ve also gotten scads of reports about prominent and generous placement. About half of the reports from the field say the book’s getting fair treatment and the other half say something different. Roger Kimball did some digging of his own.

I am very comfortable attributing some fraction of the problem to the political bias of local bookstore managers (one manager told a reader that they were simply “not allowed” to sell books from my publisher. Riiiiiiiight). I grew up in conservative publishing and the stories on this front are legion. Indeed, Regnery exists because the mainstream publishing industry essentially blacklisted conservative authors for years.

That said, I don’t think there’s anything like a corporate policy against my book. The same stores that are ostensibly stiffing me are fronting everyone from David Frum to Ann Coulter. Part of the problem is that the book store chains and, I think it’s fair to say, Random House didn’t fully anticipate the book’s potential (though my editor, Adam Bellow, did) and they simply didn’t have enough of them in the pipeline when I started my fast, but, long march through talk radio and TV.

Why is that? Politics might have a role there on the margins. But so do more mundane variables. I’m a first time author. It’s a long book with a lot of big words in it. They didn’t appreciate the power and influence of NRO. Conservative books have been suffering of late. Etc.

As for why I think the book’s doing so well (it’s been number one over at Amazon for more than a day and opened at 10 on the NYT list), I have a bunch of theories, some of them no doubt self-serving. Here’s one that doesn’t even touch on how good or bad a job I’ve done writing or promoting this book. I think the argument of this book meets a long under-satisfied demand from conservatives to beat back the myth that they are somehow fascists or crypto-Nazis. Jon Stewart may not believe that the left has been slandering American conservatives as Nazis for generations, but the book buyers know differently. The left may not think the story I have to tell is worth hearing, but that can’t stop others from being interested. I have been amazed how many people have written me to say “I’ve been saying this all my life! Thank goodness someone finally wrote this book!” That is great kindling for a bonfire of sales. Of course, the incredible support from NR, conservative talk radio and NRO’s readers as well as the positive reviews helped spread the flames. And the lefty blogs — God bless ‘em — have done everything in their power to prove that I’ve struck a nerve (what is it Huckabee says? If you’re catching flak you must be over the target.) But it may just be that, in some small way, this is a book whose time has come. And that’s pretty cool.



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