A year ago, I wrote about the best-selling conservative books of 2009 (article here, reviews here). I suggested that Obama's victory had been great for what I call the "movement conservative marketplace," helping produce a record number of top sellers.
I have also argued that anybody interested in following Republican politics -- including the likely actions of the coming GOP-controlled House of Representatives, and the 2012 Presidential nomination process -- needs to keep abreast of what's in the top-selling conservative books, as well as what's being said on conservative talk radio, television, web sites, and elsewhere. The Republican Party's voters are increasingly choosing their information and ideas from those places, and are insulating themselves almost completely from all other media sources.
Whatever is most popular among those conservative sources of information reflects what that conservative base wants to consume -- and those consumer desires will need to be catered to by Republicans on Capitol Hill, and by those seeking the GOP Presidential nomination.
So, what did the conservative marketplace consume this year?
2010 didn't have any super-blockbusters on the level of Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny, Glenn Beck's Common Sense, or Sarah Palin's Going Rogue. But it did generate, arguably, even more hits than the previous year.
In 2009, five conservative titles reached #1 on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction list at some point in the year. Two more reached #2, and another reached #1 on the paperback nonfiction list. Those were the eight top sellers I wrote about last December.
In 2010, depending on how inclusive you want to be, there were four #1 hardcovers, six additional #2 hardcovers, and two #1 paperbacks. Not too shabby. (With apologies to Glenn and Newt fans, I'm not including fiction.)
Those #1 hardcovers include Going Rogue, which spilled over to 2010 at the top spot. It does not include George Bush's memoir Decision Points, which is currently at #1 -- I don't think of that as a conservative political book, in the same vein as the others, but you might disagree and want to count it. (Ditto for Condi Rice's memoir.)
The other hardcover #1s this year were Mitt Romney's No Apology; Laura Ingraham's The Obama Diaries; and David Limbaugh's Crimes Against Liberty.
Reaching #2 were Karl Rove's Courage and Consequences; Newt Gingrich's To Save America; Bill O'Reilly's Pinheads and Patriots; Michael Savage's Trickle-Up Poverty; Glenn Beck's Broke; and Palin's America By Heart.
Sean Hannity's new book, Conservative Victory, was released only in paperback (as was Beck's Common Sense last year), and spent four weeks at the #1 spot. Spending two weeks at that perch was A Patriot's History of the United States, by Larry Scheikert and Michael Allen. That book came out in 2004, and the paperback version in 2007, but soared in popularity early this year when Glenn Beck declared it required reading.
A couple of others cracked the hardcover top 5: 2010 Take Back America, the latest from Dick Morris and Eileen McGann; and Dinesh D'Souza's The Roots of Obama's Rage. Making the main list, but lower, were Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society; Marc Thiessen's Courting Disaster; Andrew Napolitano's Lies the Government Told You; Jason Mattera's Obama's Zombies; and Aaron Klein's The Manchurian President.
I'll admit I'm behind on this reading. I've read the Romney, Ingraham, Gingrich, and Palin books, and significant portions of the Limbaugh, Hannity, and Morris entries. Most of the rest I've at least flipped though in bookstores. (I really need to get caught up quickly, because another batch is coming fast, starting with yet another Beck in January and including campaign books from Tim Pawlenty and other Presidential aspirants.)
But what do the popularity of these books tell us? Last year, I wrote that the 2009 conservative top sellers satisfied readers' needs by offering them "justification for the intense anger, hatred, and fear they feel toward Obama and
the federal government — feelings that were deliberately stoked throughout the
presidential campaign.... These books reassure them that Obama and the Democrats are, in fact,
destroying the nation."
You don't have to look much further than the titles of this year's top sellers to see that they provided more of the same. (One of the few benign titles belongs to Palin's book, which is nevertheless a vicious assault on Obama, Democrats, progressives, Hollywood, and the media.)
But, not having consumed them all, I don't want to go much deeper than that. But I'd be happy to hear any of your thoughts.