Move over, ebook authors, there’s a new bestselling author to watch out for. The fact that he was evil and responsible for the slaughter of millions of people shouldn’t matter, right? Hopefully that’s not what the consumers who have been snapping up digital editions of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf are thinking.
An article in Salon by Mary Elizabeth Williams explained an even more interesting phenomenon that has seen Hitler’s mastermind plan to spread the Nazi regime rise above books by other well-known political non-fiction writers.
First, and a source of contention among digital publishing industry experts, is the price. At only 99-cents for the Kindle ebook, intrigued readers can take a peek inside the mind of concentrated evil without having to shell out a lot of money for what they may already assume to be garbage. Second, and perhaps more telling of how books are perceived in our culture, Williams points out that the assumed privacy of an ebook purchase, followed by the privacy afforded by reading it on an e-reader, may lead consumers to purchase a title that they don’t have to be seen walking up to the bookstore register with. Can you imagine bumping into your second grade nun in the bookstore with Hitler’s face tucked neatly under your arm?
Ideally, the interest in the title stems from readers’ awareness that Hitler’s ability to entice people helped him rise to power, and that the renewed wave of purchases are from a cautious public bent on ensuring this type of monster doesn’t wind up in a position of authority ever again. But as Chris Farone points out to Williams, be very careful making an ebook purchase of this kind…your Amazon recommendations are going to be forever changed, and not in a good way.