The Rightwing Books Glut

by Patrick Appel

GOP Candidates

McKay Coppins heralds the decline of conservative publishing:

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.

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.

While best-sellers by famous pundits like Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus, and Charles Krauthammer’s Things That Matter continue to give conservative publishing a veneer of wild success, publishers say the ruthless competition on the right has made it increasingly difficult to turn a profit on midlist books.

Waldman thinks this “is mostly a reflection of the problems in the publishing industry as a whole”:

But one sub-niche that is definitely suffering is the pre-presidential-campaign book. Bizarrely, publishers still compete fervently to sign every last senator running a quixotic presidential campaign, on the off-chance that he might become president and then his book would sell spectacularly. But all but one of the candidates fails, and then the publishers have wasted their money. Just look at the pathetic sales some of these guys have generated [see chart above]

Drum blames Obama Derangement Syndrome:

Obama drove conservatives into such frenzies of hysteria that their books lost the potential to appeal to anyone except the most hardcore dittoheads. I mean, Ann Coulter built a whole career on writing ever more outrageous things in order to get a rise out of liberals, but what can you do when you’re competing with, say, Jerome R. Corsi, PhD? It’s hopeless. He makes Coulter look positively sedate.

When everyone turns the dial to 11, you aren’t a niche anymore. You’re just a crackpot fringe.