Campaigns/Elections

One Book, Two Book, Red Book, Blue Book

|

As usual, this election is suffering from a two-sets-of-facts problem. Democratic voters know one batch of data, and Republicans another, and only rarely the twain shall meet.

But lest we educated, well-informed readers of reason get on our high horses about the stupidity of people who get their facts from partisan cable news and talk radio, take a look at these charts showing political book buying patterns.

They're from the work of social networking big thinker Valdis Krebs, who used Amazon's "people who bought this book also bought…" feature to gather his data.

red books blue books 2008

That's right: Even folks with book learnin' can't get out of the partisan ghettos. This has been true for years, as the first version of this chart, assembled in 2003, shows. Note that the only linking book is ironically titled What Went Wrong?

red books blue books 2003

NEXT: Kenny Will Live!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. What went wrong?

    Is that Bernard Lewis’ book on the collapse of the Islamic Hegemon?

    If so, I can see how it would appeal to both sides. I had to read the damn thing for class. It was interesting.

  2. Heh, people still read Manufacturing Consent.

  3. /agree on What Went Wrong?

  4. Also, how the FUCK did S. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” end up on the BLUE side of the map? That makes no sense.

  5. So does that make Ron Paul a centrist?

  6. Where does the Harry Potter series fit in all of this?

  7. What about those of us who don’t jump to the bookstore every time a pop polemic is released and are content to form opinions based on our knowledge of economics, history, and keeping up with the news.

  8. Also, how the FUCK did S. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” end up on the BLUE side of the map? That makes no sense.

    I’d wager it’s mostly as a result of academic issues. Huntington is required reading in just about any globalization class. And, he still punches way above his weight in government circles as well. Since academics, students and bureaucrats all tend liberal, there you are.

  9. That’s right: Even folks with book learnin’ can’t get out of the partisan ghettos.

    Sorry, life it too short to read Naomi Klein, so I’ll stay in my libertarian ghetto.

  10. its be interesting to see how these same people’s fictional book purchasing matches up…and yeah Clash of Civilization on the blue side seems like the outlier – also how do pulpy libertarian polemics line up in all this?

  11. I’d wager it’s mostly as a result of academic issues. Huntington is required reading in just about any globalization class. And, he still punches way above his weight in government circles as well. Since academics, students and bureaucrats all tend liberal, there you are.

    Yeah, not a bad theory. But, wouldn’t we expect Fukuyama’s “The End of History” to also be in blue territory if that were the case? Fukuyama is like crack to political science professors.

  12. But lest we educated, well-informed readers of reason get on our high horses about the stupidity of people who get their facts from partisan cable news and talk radio, take a look at these charts showing political book buying patterns.

    Most political books are pretty stupid too.* I’d can confidently say without reading them** that nearly all in those two pictures definitely are.

    *No offense to Mr Welch. His may be great; haven’t read it. And in his favor, he wrote and released in a McCain bear market.

    **either the books or the pics themselves. Seriously, why are the jpegs/pngs scaled at such a low resolution?

  13. Yeah, but nobody in the academy reads an entire Fukuyama book anymore (at least not for any class) because he’s been shown to be so completely full of crap. In fact, you can see the presence of Huntington as the other side of the coin to the lack of Fukuyama’s success; either history is over, or there’s a clash of civilizations. Since we’ve had 9/11 and the ensuing wars, we know that history isn’t over. And since Huntington predicted something similar, he looks better by comparison.

  14. Clash of Civilizations is lefty? I thought it was Paleocon.

  15. If someone put a gun to your head, and you had to read either Liberal Fascism or Disaster Capitalism, which would you chose?

  16. I would love to come on here and rip on the left’s reading choices. But I looked at both charts and couldn’t help but think “who is reading this crap?” Other than the Bernard Lewis book, I wouldn’t waste five minutes reading any of those books.

  17. neat story.

    manufacturing consent is worth reading for anyone whose personal political views are marginal. it’s basic arguments are sound, if obvious, at least in terms of mechanics.

    the actual illustrative points they make are here or there in terms of accuracy, and more ideological than not, but such is the way of things.

  18. I take that back. I did read The Forgotton Man and it is a really good book. Liberal Facism isn’t bad either. Goldburg overplays his argument, but it is still pretty good. None of it was new to me, but I think the idea that facism and communism were two sides of the same coin has been pretty well accepted in 20th Century history circles for a long time now. I guess it is news to people who only read poly sci.

  19. How do you like this book of Red?

    Do you like it in the bed?

    Would you like it with some bread?

    For it to be read by Fred?

    Holding it up overhead?

    Or a book on tape instead?

    How about upside the head?

  20. If someone put a gun to your head, and you had to read either Liberal Fascism or Disaster Capitalism, which would you chose?

    PULL THE FUCKING TRIGGER

  21. “Goldburg overplays his argument”

    That’s putting it a bit mildly.

  22. But I agree with you about The Forgotten Man.

  23. I think the idea that facism and communism were two sides of the same coin has been pretty well accepted in 20th Century history circles for a long time now

    Yeah, but that coin is neither liberal nor conservative. It’s absolutist, and both liberals and conservatives have absolutist wings that would fit in remarkably well in either system. That’s why the neocons are all Leninists who made the seamless transformation after the 60s.

    And by the way, the above means that Goldberg’s thesis, to use a term or art, sucked ass. At least when viewed as scholarship rather than specious polemic. But then, Goldberg certainly isn’t a scholar, and can’t really be called a journalist without opening oneself to a defamation lawsuit from many angry reporters, so I suppose that’s to be expected.

  24. Term of art.

  25. anecdotally, I can tell you that “clash of civilizations” is the one english language book i find in almost every educated Islamist’s house, here as well as in Pakistan. They get really really turned on reading about how they are one of the clashing civilizations and not some kind of has-been with nothing worthwhile to say anymore…

  26. Where does the Harry Potter series fit in all of this?

    I’d says it’s blue to purple, but most Republicans will probably allow their children to read the pre-gay Potter stuff.

  27. “Liberal Fascism or Disaster Capitalism”

    How the hell can you compare the two?

  28. I have to agree with John. I wouldn’t prop up a table with most of those books.

  29. People don’t read political books to learn or challenge themselves: They read them because it validates their opinion. Same goes for those who read Reason or watch The Daily Show.

  30. Isn’t the more important take-away that in both charts, composed over 5 years, the blues read significantly more book titles (35/3/13) and (29/1/20)?

  31. RL, I wouldn’t confuse buying with reading.

    That aside, I guess there is something to the insight that “blues” need more constant reinforcement of their belief structure via reference to self-appointed authorities.

  32. RCD, your point is well taken. But the reality is that most people who buy a lot of books read a lot of books, albeit less than they buy. I know. I am one of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were another. Few people think of books as status purchases.

  33. Also, when it comes to literacy, I tend to think in terms of quality more than quantity.

    One of the great ironies in life: It really doesn’t matter if your IQ is 60 or 160, if you refuse to stop and think, rather than just prattle the party line.

  34. Whoops, forgot to change my joke handle back to normal

  35. right. like the reds don’t need that reinforcement, too. mein gott.

    now, just read the one that we all agree on.

    The Leather-Bound Edition of “Heather Has Two Mommies” (with the sweaty pillow fight scene on page 69)

  36. There seem to be a lot less conservative books than liberal ones….

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.