Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

CRAFTY LIBERALS....Over at NRO, Byron York writes:

[Glenn Greenwald's] How Would a Patriot Act? appears to have become something of a (quiet) publishing phenomenon, outperforming at least in the early stages other, higher-profile anti-Bush books, not to mention all the other best-sellers on the list these days. Why? No one seems to know. "We're often caught by surprise by these," says Tom Nissley, senior books editor for Amazon.com.

This is what passes for a mystery these days? On Tuesday, big liberal blogs started pushing their readers to pre-order Greenwald's book on Amazon, with the specific goal of driving up its Amazon ranking. And it worked. Mystery solved.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, York's article contains some useful advice: "We rank by orders, not by sales," Nissley says. "We only count orders we count an order of 1,000 copies the same as an order of one." So if you're trying to goose somebody's ranking, be sure to place five orders for one book each instead of one order for five books.

Kevin Drum 12:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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One other note: us blog consumers have found that he's a superb writer. And an analyst he really cuts to the chase.

And that title! What a great question - how should a (implied real) patriot act? Not so BS posing, but how should a real american concerned about his or her country and place in the world act?

The pumping worked, because there was something to pump.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 28, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

and pay a lot for shipping

Posted by: N on April 28, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

N: Eh. Just choose fast shipping for one copy and the free shipping option for the others. No big deal.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on April 28, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

By what possible standard would the activity Kevin describes here be worth anyone's time?

Posted by: Zathras on April 28, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

"So far, How Would a Patriot Act? has received almost no attention in the press."

I guess that means he can't blame the success to date on the boogeyman of the allegedly liberal media.

Of course, this life on the Amazon list may be ephemeral, but I suspect that the reason is that Glenn Greenwald's blog makes for good and informed reading and the topic appeals to a broad audience. I plan on buying a copy based upon what I have read on his blog, normally I would wait.

Posted by: Catch22 on April 28, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm....

Should I spend my $100 gasoline rebate check on a liberal book order?

Nah...

Hmmmm.....

Maybe I should contribute the whole $100 to the Democratic party? Now there's an idea: A website where folks can pledge their check to the Dems. Imagine if 30,000 or 40,000 people signed up pledging to do just that... Why that'd be like 30,000 to 40,000 folks saying: Fuck you and your secret energy commission Cheney...

Hmmmm.....

Posted by: koreyel on April 28, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I echo Samuel Knight.

I read my fair share of liberal blogs, and I don't recall a single promotion or "push" for Greenwald's book. Maybe there was one, but ultimately, people aren't going to buy a book just because blogs recommend it.

All I know is that I bought his book because of my exposure to his talent as a writer.

At best, liberal blogs made people aware of Greenwald's book, but Greenwald's reputation did the rest.

Posted by: K Ashford on April 28, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Greenwald is definitely an excellent writer, way above most other bloggers.

But also look at the competition. Party of Death?

Posted by: lib on April 28, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

And, um, notice that the super-successful titles arent Bush is teh suck! Of the two biggest titles to come out of the left blogosphere, one is a book on a what core values should underlie a progressive philosophy for the 21st Century, the other is one on political tactics and what structural and institutional changes Democrats need to make in order to win.

Contrast that to the heavy hitters of the right-wing publishing industry, whose titles are all variations on the theme of, liberals hate America and want to kill you in your sleep and eat your children.

It's a difference I don't think liberal bloggers get nearly enough credit for.

Posted by: theorajones on April 28, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for alerting me to the left's attempt to manipulate Greenwald's book sales.

I can't wait til you lefties try to manipulate the ratings for Air America!

Posted by: BigRiver on April 28, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

This is exactly what happens when a group becomses so insular that they create there own reality. Just yesterday Atrios had a post about Roger Simon drinking the Kool-Aid about Instapundit's book sales relative to "Crashing the Gate". I mean I had no idea who would sell more books, but I'm not surprised that Crashing the Gate has done better. Their believe in their own rightenous prevents them from believing anything that goes against their beliefs.

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2006_04_23_atrios_archive.html#114616217910955980

Posted by: Derrick on April 28, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that Glenn Greenwald's "How Would a Patriot Act?" owes its early success to the big liberal blogs that urged their readers to pre-order the book on Amazon, makes little sense. If that's what it took, if the "mystery [is] solved" as Kevin put it, then we should have seen Markos Zuniga's "Crashing the Gates" break all records and be an even greater success. After all, not only big liberal blogs pushed it, but Zuniga is Daily Kos, the bigger of the liberal blogs.

So, why is "How Would a Patriot Act?" racking up orders? What Samuel Knight said: Greenwald quickly attracted an audience with incisive, intelligent writing. I'm interested in his book because I want to find out what he has to say. That's the only reason I buy books, and that's the only reason literate people buy books. Not because they saw an ad, or they were pushed or urged.

Posted by: Aris on April 28, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Greenwald quickly attracted an audience with incisive, intelligent writing.

abso-fucking-lutely

Posted by: craigie on April 28, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

And I echo K Ashford.

I became aware of Greenwald through the blogs I regularly read (Atrios, Digby, KOS, Kevin here, etc.)

I ordered his book because of HIS blog, which in a very short period of time, became a "must read."

Posted by: Richard on April 28, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

BigRiver: "Thanks for alerting me to the left's attempt to manipulate Greenwald's book sales. I can't wait til you lefties try to manipulate the ratings for Air America!"

Curses. Foiled again. Now people will know why there are so many liberals in Hawaii and the West Coast.

We were placed here by our supreme commander Comrade Pelosi because of our strategic locales are three to six hours behind east coast time, in order to plot and implement our many nefarious schemes to thwart George W. Bush and his patriotic colleagues while most of America sleeps at night.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 28, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Folks, calm down. Glenn is a fine writer. I wasn't trying to take anything away from him. But there was a big push for his book starting on Tuesday, and that's been the primary reason for his skyrocketing Amazon ranking. I was just pointing out to Byron York that if he paid any attention to the liberal blogosphere he'd know that.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on April 28, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I was just pointing out to Byron York that if he paid any attention to the liberal blogosphere he'd know that.

If he paid attention to the liberal blogosphere, he'd know a lot of things he doesn't know now.

Posted by: craigie on April 28, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: Tuesday, big liberal blogs started pushing their readers to pre-order Greenwald's book on Amazon, with the specific goal of driving up its Amazon ranking. And it worked. Mystery solved.
Well, your ostensibly "big liberal blog" hasn't been pushing its readers to order Greenwald's book--until now, at least, if inadvertently.

I also think you're being rather dismissive to the content of Greenwald's book to say that those who have linked to it on Amazon are doing so "with the specific goal of driving up its Amazon ranking." It's clear to me that their specific goal is to have as many people as possible read what Greenwald has to say.

All in all, your snarky "mystery solved" smacks of arrogance and jealousy. Greenwald is a comparatively new kid on the blog block whose talent and insight should be enjoying your support, rather than arousing your competitive resentment.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 28, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I love me a Glenn Greenwald.

I don't know about most of America, but if you're ever just waiting for George to nod off, feel free to start implementing at like 6 p.m. mountain time.

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

How strange. My last comment was supposed to be addressed to this:

We were placed here by our supreme commander Comrade Pelosi because of our strategic locales are three to six hours behind east coast time, in order to plot and implement our many nefarious schemes to thwart George W. Bush and his patriotic colleagues while most of America sleeps at night.

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, we weren't saying that you were slamming Greenwald's writing. I just thought it was important to note how many of us were really impressed by his writing.

And I don't think that you can take that for granted. Too many times people credit the marketing only.

Lots of examples out there of duds that no marketing could resuscitate.

So please don't infer a slam.

Thanks

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 28, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

See, I don't think there was a real big push to guy Glenn's book. Atrios mentioned it, but it wasn't exactly a concerted effort. People just sort of trust GG, you know? Trust him to write a decent book. And unlike almost every other blogger with a book I can think of, there isn't a big cottage industry around Glenn (unlike, say, Hewitt and Kos with their.) He's just a guy with a blog, and I think a lot of us who don't feel like supporting blogger-authors who clearly want their own little media empires have no problem plunking down $7.20 for Glenn Greenwald.

Posted by: Justin Slotman on April 28, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Edit: The sentence above should look like this: "And unlike almost every other blogger with a book I can think of, there isn't a big cottage industry around Glenn (unlike, say, Hewitt and Kos.)"

Posted by: Justin Slotman on April 28, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to announce the publication of my new book, "Bush Is Teh $UCK!!!". Order 50 copies to drive up the Amazon numbers and show those Republicans what's what!

Posted by: Rick on April 28, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

GG is an excellent writer and I'm looking forward to reading the book. However, I bought it now because of the "push" and bought 6 copies. Atrios and Digby in particular. Kevin is correct.

Posted by: Phil Mc on April 28, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I did think that it would be good to organize some kind of drive to have 100 people each buy a copy of the book, which they would have shipped to their Senator.

And another group could each send one to a Congresscritter. They wouldn't read them, of course, but for $8, I think that would make an interesting point.

Posted by: craigie on April 28, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Bloggers with WAY BIGGER of an audience that Greenwald - including Instapundit, Hugh Hewitt, and Kos, not to mention National review people like Kate O'Bierne and Ramesh Ponnuru and even Michelle Malkin - have all published books in the last few months, had big blog pushes, and yet did NOT go anywhere near number one. Greenawld's book went right ot number one and stayed there.

DRUM - Just logically, doesn't that show that it has something to do with more than just some blog pushing? York recognizes that it was pumped by blogs - but makes the point that so have other books which didn't go to number one.

Posted by: Wallace on April 28, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

The truth is, Kevin, while some of the more prominent blogs gave a link to pre-order the book (probably because Glenn's blog is a must-read for so many liberal bloggers, thus they knew the book was available), there was absolutely no push to drive up the ranking, at least not until the book got to #20 or so and some people started to say "hey, let's go all the way to #1!"

But I really, truly didn't see any liberal bloggers pushing the book other than for the reason that they thought it would be good. In fact, until the book shot up the Amazon rankings, most people probably figured it took some impossibly high number of sales to reach #1 on Amazon.

Posted by: Steve on April 28, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK


STEVE: ...most people probably figured it took some impossibly high number of sales to reach #1 on Amazon.
Well, it has slipped to #3 now, after several days at #1. Maybe Kevin's mention of it will bump it back to the top. One thing is clear to me: No book written by someone on the right could shoot to the top, remain there for days, and not draw national attention. If some obscure Malkin clone or even just a frequent freeper commenter had accomplished what Greenwald has, he'd have made the rounds of guesting on O'Reilly's, Matthews', and Blitzer's shows by now. Conversely, Greenwald is likely to get a plug-spot on Air America sometime soon.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 28, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

The impression I get from York's article is that he set out to prove that Greenwald's high Amazon ranking was evidence of cheating by lefty bloggers (hence all the questions about whether it's possible to game the system). He found out it wasn't, so he wrote this weird article suggesting that there must be some kind of foul conspiracy even though he has no idea what it is.

These guys really do not get that it's not just the insane fringe left that dislikes what Bush has done. The right-wing media bubble is impenetrable.

Posted by: M.A. on April 28, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

JEALOUS?

Posted by: jason on April 28, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Eh, if lefty blogs didn't push it to the top, why does every other post on atrios have to be a stupid update on how Greenwald's book is moving up the ranks on Amazon? Either the system is being gamed, or Atrios is an asshole who's taking credit for the book's natural sales? I find the whole thing almost as distasteful as the entirety of Daily Kos.

Posted by: John on April 28, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Does Kevin actually read any of the comments here, or just peruse them just to get a sense of what our reactions are to his posts? Because, if he had actually read what several of us have pointed out, namely that other bloggers who've published books have more prominent blogs than Greenwald, and had more of a push when their books came out, but have not made #1 on Amazon, perhaps he would have addressed this particular point. Instead, he tells us to "calm down" and repeats almost word for word his assertion about blogs pushing "How Would a Patriot Act?"

Let's try again: Kevin, if indeed Greenwald's book was propelled on Amazon by a concerted liberal blog push, then how to you explain the relative lack of similar success by other books, which were pushed harder by more prominent blogs?

P.S. I'm very calm.

Posted by: Aris on April 28, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Just maybe it's the content?

Greenwald also has massive cross over political appeal. He's not a lefty or a righty, he's a constitutional lawyer and scholar and it informs his whole approach to the issues.

Posted by: Nemesis on April 28, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I bought it last night when I found out it was out. Not because I was told to but due to the author and the subject matter. I doubt I am the only one.

Posted by: drag0n on April 28, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Eh, if lefty blogs didn't push it to the top, why does every other post on atrios have to be a stupid update on how Greenwald's book is moving up the ranks on Amazon?

Atrios mentioned the book on Tuesday morning, I believe. By Atrios's second mention that afternoon the book was already #24. Now, you can decide that Atrios is somehow all powerful, commanding a huge army of book-buying drones... Or you may realize that a lot of people were already looking forward to Greenwald's book well before Atrios mentioned it.

Posted by: Aris on April 28, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Damn straight, Mr. Wright.
Sour grapes, Mr. Drum.

Parting with $12 plus shipping to drive a stranger's book up the Amazon rankings. Yeah, a lot of liberals will get right on that. "OH LOOK! JANE HAMSHER SAYS THAT I NEED TO GIVE MY LAST HOUR'S WAGE TO GLENN GREENWALD JUST CUZ. THRILLED TO DO IT!!"

There's a backstory here - Glenn took Kevin to the shed a few weeks back and it hurt Kevin's feelings - Kevin didn't really deal with it at the time so this is what we get.

There are many other approaches Kevin could have taken and if he had thought for about 19 seconds about the comparison with Crashing the Gate he would have had to take a different tack. The PS whipsering that Glenn's buyers somehow previously understood how to goose Amazon's numbers is humiliating. I look forward to a PPS with at least a glimmer of the old Calpundit magic - is there any left?

Posted by: JSiq on April 28, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Glenn speaks his mind, doesn't advocate false "centricism", and believes in standing up for principled beliefs, rather than political expedience.

And he's a best-selling author on his first try. DLC, are you listening, you ignorant sluts?

Posted by: nova silverpill on April 29, 2006 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

Greenwald is a rock star right now, and he's been doing great writing. When Atrios linked to his book, and even though I ignore 99.8% of all appeals on all blogs, I was intrigued and went right over and ordered. Sometimes, it's all about quality.

Posted by: Jimm on April 29, 2006 at 4:04 AM | PERMALINK

If you read The Corner, you'll see the chuzzlewits there constantly pimping each other's straight-to-landfill "books." Two months ago it was Kate "Snaggletooth Sandy" O'Beirne's anti-feminist screed, and now it's Radish Pornmumu's The Democraps Luv Death fetus-humping tome. Soon it'll be Jonah "Batsboy" Goldberg's manifesto, I Heart Hitler.

Funny how none of those tools can match Greenwald's success.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on April 29, 2006 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

music,movie,pic,starhere

Posted by: 454sda on April 29, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Glen writes from a neutral perspective. After the last Decade of Punditry and Blame Game Faux Antics perhaps people are looking for something they can actually read.

Let's take Anne Coulters latest Rant;
'The Godless Liberals'
I guess she speaks of what, and whom, she knows, and thats the Straussian Neo-Con Liars, and they are truly Godless, They see Religion as 'Pious Fraud', someting to lead the Christians around with. A tool.
Its this Fraud the Christians need to wake up to.
--------
[John 1;1 AETZI]

Posted by: Bush Political SocioPath on April 30, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

If Byron York honestly is surprised that there has been so little media attention paid to the book, he's an idiot on several levels. That said, given that the book isn't being released until 5/15, it's not surprising. If there are going to be reviews published, you'd expect to see them within the next two or three weeks, but you wouldn't necessarily have expected to see them this past weekend.

Posted by: Lex on May 1, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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