Amid NSA Scandal, Orwell Books Rocket Up The Sellers Lists

from the i-thought-nobody-cared? dept

As the NSA spying scandal lumbers along, or as some reports suggest, begins, reports of American apathy have already rolled in. Of course, those supposed indifferent shrugs tend to amount more to how the questions are being asked than actual viewpoints. Couple that with how social humans are as a species, is in my opinion quite dangerous. It’d be all too easy for people to hear reports that nobody really seems to care about any of this intrusive data gathering business and decide that they should feel similarly.

Fortunately, there’s at least some evidence that such an effect isn’t occurring. Otherwise, we’re going to have to come up with a whole new logical reason as to why George Orwell’s books, particularly 1984, are skyrocketing up the hot sellers lists. As Gawker notes:

According to Amazon’s Movers & Shakers countdown, three different editions of George Orwell’s alt-history book Nineteen Eighty-Four have shot up hundreds of spots on the chart since news of the NSA’s clandestine spying program PRISM broke late last week. One edition in particular — the Centennial Edition — has exploded in popularity, increasing its sales rank by 7,000% in days.

Now, before you cheer this on, it’s worth noting that other books on the “Movers and Shakers” list aren’t so politically-minded, unless books on being a gentleman (pshhh!), books on calorie counting (pshhh!), or books by Glenn Beck (PSHHH!) actually have some value there that I’m not aware of. Still, it’s encouraging to see signs that people are paying attention. That, after all, is how change actually occurs. I might suggest some lovely texts by Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine as well, but Orwell is certainly a start.

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Comments on “Amid NSA Scandal, Orwell Books Rocket Up The Sellers Lists”

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Liz (profile) says:

Re: Glenn Beck?

Have you read anything from Glenn Beck? Agenda 21, Being George Washington, Common Sense, The Overton Window, and two kids books The Christmas Sweater and People Behind the Patriots.

He writes some interesting speculative fiction and alternate history books not unlike Ray Bradbury or George Orwell. I mean, if you toss out your suspension of disbelief, his writing is almost passable!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Milk it for all it's worth

7 of the 13 articles on front page of the WP mobile app are about this, but yeah, they’re just milking it too.
Please, we’ve put up with you during your time in law school trying to audition for one of the *AA’s. You didn’t get the job. You’re not going to get the job. Maybe you should just go out and get a real job.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: How are those doing in no-cost ebook form on The Pirate Bay?

The book is out of copyright and in the public domain in the rest of the english-speaking world, only the US increased the term of copyright to make more pirates. really if you can’t make a hansom profit in under 50 years on a book, you shouldn’t be in publishing.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: How are those doing in no-cost ebook form on The Pirate Bay?

“I actually tried to find out! But it’s down for me at the moment.”

It must be down for everyone since people are buying it in droves. You can’t compete with free so there must not be a free option.

The king of tin foil hats does bring up a valid question (though he asked it in a profoundly stupid way). I wonder how much that book has been downloaded illegally. Can you even buy an ebook version of 1984? After that Amazon thing, I figured there were no ebook versions.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: How are those doing in no-cost ebook form on The Pirate Bay?

“I wonder how much that book has been downloaded illegally.”

Probably lots, but that’s really irrelevant to any point. ootb can’t attack Mike for talking about the legal version though, so he has to make some stupid attack based on some tangential fiction. He has to tread lightly, because he can’t admit that he agrees with Mike on the basic facts (it doesn’t necessarily matter since the legal copy is doing very nicely). He also can’t pull a morality spin about stealing from Orwell, since he probably died before anyone commenting here was born. So, he has to come up with some barely comprehensible rubbish that only makes himself look like an idiot – SOP for him.

“Can you even buy an ebook version of 1984? After that Amazon thing, I figured there were no ebook versions.”

Yep, it’s definitely for sale from various publishers. The scandal at Amazon was just over one particular publisher who they discovered didn’t have the US publishing rights for the book (although they had rights elsewhere). Only that particular version was affected, the copies from other publishers were still OK. The scandal itself was more about how Amazon handled the issue (they deleted paid copies without warning from peoples’ Kindles) than the fact that they pulled that version.

jameshogg says:

Re: Re: How are those doing in no-cost ebook form on The Pirate Bay?

Tell that to the Soviet dissidents of the 20th century who were forced to pirate the book in order to evade the secret police.

And the Iranians now who are forced to pirate copies of Animal Farm.

Not to mention a lot of the Chinese who need to smuggle goods underground in order to a) avoid the eyes of the secret police and b) get by the government’s trade restrictions that are deliberately designed to take advantage of copyright law’s existence.

I keep saying – to attack the Chinese government’s cheating of free trade through monopoly of piracy, you need to get rid of the monopoly system that is causing it, which is copyright law.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Humans are pack animals by nature, they tend to go with the herd. It’s why we have things like flash mobs and sheeple. Individually, when confronted with the facts, people would not act that way. Put them in a group where they see others acting that way, they think they’re allowed to as well. Not only can they be given permission to act wrong or to not act, most people will also try to fit in with the crowd, to be socially accepted.

I could go on, but at this point, I don’t think I need to.

Anonymous Coward says:

it’s not just because of what is in the books, particularly ‘1984’, but because everywhere people look, they can see how things are moving in the direction written about. if we get to that point and i believe that we are much closer to it than we would like to think or admit, then we are it deep shit! governments are not trusted by the people any more, so governments force undue hardships. anything that can be done to keep the people suppressed is brought into play. censorship then begins, not because of anything other than to try to stem the flow of information of what is happening in one country or to one people from being relayed to another. those in charge are behind the times, certainly in the majority of cases, with today’s technology. the only way is to stop what they can from developing and ban what has already been developed. that is their way of maintaining control!

JJ Joseph (profile) says:

Does anybody here have any idea what NSA (or even TSA) are trying to do? They’re trying to find enemies of non-Muslim American people while being strapped into a politically correct body-brace. It’s nothing to do with Big Brother’s agenda. It’s working within the chicken-sh*t guidelines set down by our lily-livered politicians. Until we’re ready to call a spade a spade, we’re going to have to put up with cavity searches of little old ladies and Christian clergymen. This non-issue is going to be a bit of a nuisance until we’re ready to name the enemy of free people everywhere.

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