Red Books vs. Blue Books: What's on America's Nightstand?

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As Amazon aptly reminds us, books aren't votes.  But it's still pretty interesting to see what political books are most popular around the country.  The results?  Americans are buying more “red” books than “blue” books by about 58 to 42 percent (one point redder than when the screenshot of the map was taken).  And while there's not much that can be read into these numbers, they do reveal some thought-provoking trends.

Amazon's 2012 Election Heat Map colors each state based on the share of red and blue book purchases made on over the past 30 days, after classifying the top-selling political books as “red,” “blue,” or neutral. Popular red books include such titles as Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream, The Roots of Obama's Rage and Fool Me Twice: Obama's Shocking Plans for the Next Four Years Exposed. Blue titles include The Passage of Power (the latest LBJ biography from Robert Caro), A People's History of the United States and The New New Deal.

While some of the books (like the ones about particular politicians) are unequivocally political, some (like the historical ones) are a bit less clearly “red” or “blue.”  So placing your election bets based on this study is probably unwise.   What's more interesting is the split between the “red” books being primarily anti-Obama screeds and conspiracy theories, while the “blue” books are primarily historical and sociological works about topics like Democratic presidents and inequality.  

Unsurprisingly, Texans order a greater share of red books than the national average – 68 percent red to 32 percent blue.  The most popular red book in Texas is The Amateur, while the most popular blue book is The Price of Inequality, in keeping with the national trend of right wing tirade for red vs. sociological study for blue.

And though the nation generally looks red in its readership, readers are buying Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope over Mitt Romney's No Apology: The Case for American Greatness at a rate of 59 to 41.  But poor Joe – readers are choosing Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor's book over Biden's book 95 to 5.  

The map is updated hourly, so it's worth checking back to see how the proportions change when new bestsellers are introduced in the mix.  In the meantime, take comfort in knowing that these results are in no way predictive.  


About Author

Emily Cadik

Emily is a Texas ex-pat and proud Longhorn living in Washington, DC, where she remains connected to the Lone Star State through her work on BOR and her enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. She works on affordable housing policy, and writes about health care, poverty and other social justice issues.


  1. Not all as it seems…
    Be aware when looking at this map that many hundreds of thousands of “red” books are purchased by think tank and foundation shills and proxies in order to crank their books up the best-seller lists.  These are books that will not be sold at retail – some will be recycled and others will show up by the truckload at remainder shops and used bookstores as writeoffs.  I used to work at one such store and at least a couple of times a month I'd find myself stacking and stashing cases of books that were still on the bestseller lists but had been given to the store for disposal.  So you could order off the website of your choice for $39.95 – or pick the same book in never-opened condition off our clearance rack for 25c……

    Never saw that with “blue” books….  

  2. Red Books
    Rabid Republicans never strike me as willing to read anything that challenges their view of creation or the dangers of a president with skin darker than theirs.  It's not surprising to see Mississippi is such a bright shade of red as both books sold there in the last 30 days were coloring books for conservatives.  You only use one color, white.

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