By HILLEL ITALIE
NEW YORK — Maybe it’s the prose, or the charisma, or the novelty. But if voter excitement were measured by book sales, then Sen. Barack Obama would be the clear front-runner.
Sales have exploded in 2008 for the works of Obama, the Illinois Democrat who has steadily climbed in the polls all year. Sales have stayed flat for the works of Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who quickly and surprisingly became his party’s presumptive nominee after he seemed finished last summer.
‘‘There’s no question that Obama is a phenomenon but to many people he’s still a discovery and they may be coming to his book to get to know who he is,’’ said Jonathan Karp, head of the Twelve imprint at Hachette Book Group USA, which just released McCain’s Hard Call in paperback. ‘‘I think people already know who McCain is, and he has demonstrated a long and broad appeal to readers.’’
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., signs copies of The
Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the
American Dream in Hyde Park in October 2006.
| Charles Rex Arbogast~AP
According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of industry sales, combined sales for Obama’s Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope were averaging more than 35,000 a week in late February, more than triple the pace of early January, when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was still favored to be the Democrat nominee.
Dreams From My Father, a memoir, first came out in 1995; The Audacity of Hope, a political book, in 2006.
Meanwhile, McCain’s sudden prominence has had no discernible impact on Faith of My Fathers, a highly praised, best-selling memoir released in 1999, and on Hard Call, a book about character in public life first released last August and out in paperback with a printing of 50,000. Both books, according to BookScan, have been averaging less than 1,000 sales a week, as have sales for McCain’s Worth the Fighting For and Why Courage Matters.
Weekly sales for Clinton’s memoir, Living History, have also averaged 1,000 or less throughout 2008. The book was a near-instant million seller when published in 2003.