From a reader:
Subject: You beat the student but can you beat the masters?
Jonah, I sent your “gloat” over Yglesias’ low sale figures to a liberal friend in publishing and he conceded that you destroyed Matt’s numbers. However, he sent some figures suggesting that you don’t do quite as well against some true liberal heavyweights:
Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival – 176,000 (pb/hc) – Bookscan
Frank, What’s the Matter With Kansas? - 255,000 (pb/hc) – Bookscan
Rich, The Greatest Story Ever Sold – 113,000 (hc only) – Bookscan
Krugman, The Great Unraveling – 150,000 (pb/hc) – Bookscan
Phillips, American Theocracy – 147,000 (hc only) – Bookscan
Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant – 255,000 (pb only) – Bookscan
Weiner, Legacy of Ashes – 101,000 (hc only) – Bookscan
Me: Not sure how to respond to this, as I am grateful for as well I’ve done even if I never sell another book. But a few points. First, my book is still selling, according to Bookscan about 1,200+ a week. The paperback (with new material!) won’t be released until 2009, so it’s entirely possible, though hardly guaranteed, that I will match or beat many of the combined sales numbers listed above. A few other things are worth noting. This was my first book, which has all sorts of disadvantages sales-wise. And yet it was a #1 NYT and Amazon bestseller. The publisher underestimated it’s potential and didn’t bring enough books to market until well after the high-water mark of publicity and interest. They did very good at playing catch-up, but I don’t know how many chips I left on the table. Authors like Chomsky and Krugman have/had huge institutional advantages given previous sales records a friendly mainstream media and enormous support in some cases from the Democratic Party (Lakoff, Krugman) and universities (Chomsky). Meanwhile, most of the mainstream outlets — NYT, The New Republic, The Economist, PBS etc — have either ignored the book entirely or played shabby shoot-the-messenger games trying to discredit me and the book rather than engage it honestly. Also, it’s been a miserable time for conservative books generally these last few years. So, I think when all is said and done the success of Liberal Fascism compares quite respectably with most of these guys and I am very proud of how well it’s done and extremely grateful for the support it’s received.