In the week after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, independent bookstores in Manhattan have noticed an increase in sales of novels with totalitarian themes, among them George Orwell’s “1984,” Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here” and Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America.”
Orwell’s dystopian classic sold out last week on Amazon after Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, characterized provable falsehoods as “alternative facts, while Roth’s novel, published in 2004, presents an alternative history in which FDR lost the 1940 presidential election to anti-Semitic candidate Charles Lindberg, the famed aviator.
The general manager of Shakespeare & Co., on Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side, Kenneth Tan, said the bookshop is boosting its stocks of both books to meet demand. The store sold about 10 copies each of “1984” and “Plot Against America” recently. Four stores — Westsider Books, 192 Books, Book Book and Book Culture on Columbus Avenue — have all sold out of “1984.” Three of these stores have also sold out of “It Can’t Happen Here.”
Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and U.S. Rep. John Lewis’s memoir, “Walking with the Wind” have all been selling briskly. Lewis’s book, which documents his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, sold out on Amazon after Trump attacked him on Twitter over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, saying that Lewis is “all talk, no action.” Trump’s tweet followed Lewis’ claim that Trump was not “legitimate president” given allegations of Russian meddling in the elections.
While Orwell’s “1984” sits at number one on Amazon’s bestsellers list, Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here,” Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” about a future society where books are outlawed and burned, Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and Orwell’s “Animal Farm” have all risen on the list as well.
Trump’s own “The Art of The Deal,” published 30 years ago, is number 24 on the list.
In addition to the rise of political and dystopian books on Bestsellers lists, another piece of literature that has gained in popularity since the inauguration: sitting at number 37 on Amazon’s list is the U.S. Constitution.