Amazon's newest bestselling author is...der Führer? Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf is charting on some e-book bestseller lists despite the fact that print sales have flagged for years. The disturbing trend, which was first noticed by Vocativ a few days ago, shows no sign of slowing down.
A $2.51 version of Hitler's autobiography currently tops the Amazon e-books bestseller list in the section Propaganda and Political Psychology. Two different editions of Mein Kampf also appear on the iTunes bestseller list of paid books in Politics and Current Events. The most unsettling part: just five days ago, the two versions stood on the list at #12 and #15. Now they're #3 and #5. That's not to mention all the free versions available in various corners of the web. Over 100,000 copies of the work have been downloaded from the Internet Archive alone.
The book hasn't been on the New York Times bestseller list since it was released in the United States in 1939. Although it is a favorite of, say, the North Korean government, the physical book has (for good reason) not been tremendously popular in the U.S. lately. But it has maintained a steady presence on e-readers since their introduction. That presence only became more prominent last year, when a 99-cent Mein Kampf was released by the company Elite Minds in January.
The company decided to release the cheap digital version in an effort to promote a new original translation, which it only makes available in print and audiobook formats. The president of the company, defending the controversial decision, told Vocativ, "I have not heavily promoted the book and decided, for the most part, to let it spread among those who have a true historical and academic interest naturally." However, others suspect that it's more likely neo-Nazis, not historians, who are driving sales.
But why the popularity at all, when so few print editions of Hitler's book are moved each year? It's the appeal of anonymity, suggest some. "These are things that people would be embarrassed to read otherwise," Chris Faraone, the Vocativ writer, told ABC News. "Books that people would probably be a bit more embarrassed to read or display or buy in public, they are more than willing to buy on their Kindle, or iPads."