The Conservative publishing industry has been experiencing a boom along with the rise of right-wing talk radio. But now, that has come to an end like anything which is assumed to grow forever and ever. Buzzfeed reports that conservative book sales have suddenly plummeted.
This pattern continues as you scan the works of recent and prospective Republican presidential candidates. According to one knowledgeable source, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker received an even larger advance than Pawlenty’s, and Bookscan has his 2013 book Unintimidated selling around 16,000 copies. Sen. Rand Paul’s latest, Government Bullies, has barely cracked 10,000 sold; and despite spending months in the 2012 GOP primaries, Rick Santorum’s book about the founding fathers, American Patriots, sold just 6,538 copies. Perhaps most surprising, Immigration Wars, co-authored by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who consistently polls in the top tier of the Republican 2016 field, sold just 4,599 copies.
This has caused a lot of book publishers to lose money. Certain publishers like to advance prospective Presidential candidates a lot of money, hoping that they will cash in if their candidate wins the White House. But that is simply not viable anymore because people are simply not buying their books.
One of the problems is that the market has become saturated.
That of course isn’t the only problem afflicting the conservative publishing market. Borders bookstores, whose widespread placement in exurban malls and rural communities made them magnets for right-leaning customers, shut down in 2011. And the web has decimated the subscription-based “book clubs” that launched a slew of conservative best-sellers in the ’90s and early 2000s.The next problem is demographics. A greater percentage of people in this country are Blacks, Latinos, and other minorities, meaning that at some point, our country will become a majority-minority nation. And a lot fewer younger people are right-wingers compared to their older peers, meaning that when older conservatives die, there will be fewer people to replace them with.
Meanwhile, the proliferation of conservative publishers has made the economics of their genre much tougher, with an ever-increasing number of books competing for an audience that hasn’t grown much since the ’90s. One agent compared conservative literature to Young Adult fiction, an unsexy niche genre that quietly pulled in respectable profits for years until the big houses took notice, and began entering into bidding wars for promising authors, and flooding the market in a frenzied attempt to find the next Twilight.
That brings up a question which the article didn't address -- are there similar declines in book sales across the board, or is this decline limited to Conservative book sales? The answer surprised us.
Hardcover book sales in the U.S. are up over 10% through the first eight months of 2013, according to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers. At the same time, adult ebook sales are only up 4.8%; all U.S. ebook sales, including children’s and religious ebooks, are down about 5%.So, contrary to the perception that hard copy is going down the drain due to technology, it has been making a comeback. And nobody is exactly sure why. People are still up for a good book.