Why Do Political Books Sell So Well?

Yet another pundit takes to the airwaves to plug their book. This time, it’s one by Mark Steyn: After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. He plugged it on Ed Driscoll’s site, and it was subsequently picked up by other conservative news and commentary outlets like HotAir.com.

It brings to mind an interesting question: Why do political books sell so well? What is it about them that makes so many people want to buy them?

It’s an old phenomenon, of course. Back when Rush Limbaugh debuted, he started to dominate all media possible including the publishing industry. His first book, The Way Things Ought to Be was an instant best seller in 1992. It was quickly followed by his second book, also a best seller, See I Told You So.

Political books go back even further, though. In the last century alone they ranged from Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm to Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

And while the preponderance of political books seem to come from conservative pens, progressives write them too. In fact, here’s 15 progressive books on Amazon from a listmania collection.

But why do they sell well? Perhaps we like to read a good story, and political thrillers can provide interest. It seems like after every important election somebody writes a good book about it, like Heilemann and Halperin’s Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime.

Another reason might lie with discontent with the mainstream media, especially by those who might feel most political information is too slanted to be reasonable. By reading a book, they can feast on the ideas of one or two pundits at a time rather than sorting through a daily barrage of media tidbits from across the political spectrum.

It’s fun to speculate. Anytime authors can tap into readers’ attention, and pocketbooks, it’s worth prying a bit to try and find out what makes a topic so interesting to the public.

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