The Volokh Conspiracy

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"An Introduction To Constitutional Law" Has 1,000 Review on Amazon

After more than two years in print, 100 Cases still garners new positive reviews.

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In September 2019, Randy and I released An Introduction to Constitutional Law: 100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know. On the one-year anniversary, we announced that more than 20,000 copies were sold. At the time, our book had 359 reviews on Amazon. During in the past year, the book has continued to sell, and generate positive reviews. Today, we crossed another milestone: 1,000 reviews on Amazon. Yes, in the second year of publication, we added nearly 640 new reviews!

So far, the reviews have averaged 4.7 stars. More than 80% of the reviews are 5 stars. I've found that most of the less-than-five star reviews are from people who have difficulty accessing the online resources. (We are aware of the problem, and are working on improving the process).

To put this number in perspective, the runner-up book in the Constitutional Law category on Amazon has 652 reviews, and it was released in 2018. And Erwin Chemerinsky's treatise, which was also released in 2019, has 216 reviews. Our book stands heads and shoulders above the competition.

Randy and I are working on the second edition of the book, which should be released later this year.

Thank you to everyone for your support.

NEXT: Should Kuwaiti Student Challenging Title IX Sexual Misconduct Finding Be Pseudonymous,

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  1. Congrats on the book. It looks great. I wish I taught Con Law so I could use it. I teach Con Crim Pro and Ethics (classes start today!) and am using books that are much less fun. Wish you guys would do a Con Crim Pro version.....

  2. " Our book stands heads and shoulders above the competition. "

    Fox News makes similar 'We're #1" boasts despite having an audience that is dwarfed by mainstream competitors. (Narrowcasting aimed at a fringe audience can be profitable, of course.)

    How many classes at strong, reality-based law schools are using this book? How many classes taught by mainstream (rather than movement conservative) law professors?

    I would expect to find that the audience for this book resembles (and overlaps) the audience for books by Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, and the like.

    Have Profs. Barnett and Blackman considered using some of the proceeds from sales to fund an editor who could correct some of the amateurish mistakes published at "Today In Supreme Court History?"

  3. Okay, who's worse for the shilling for their books here? Somin with his open borders book, or Blackman with this book?

    1. Worse than them is all commenters who sneer at them for shilling for their books, as if their opinions are more worthy than the bloggers'.

      1. Even worse, is a commentator who acts like a small child when they disagree with a critique about commercialism over substance.

    2. Every author that ever lived is the most guilty of book shilling. And don't forget Bernstein has a book coming out soon too, and EV, and Orin have been known to promote their own books too.

      Nothing wrong with it, if you put in the work then reap the rewards.

      But I will draw the line if someone decides to publish a compendium of their blog posts and then tries to promote it. It's bad enough when columnists do that.

      1. As a published book author myself trust me, pointing out your Amazon rating in a blog post is shilling over substance. It's ephemeral "wow, look at me, get the camera quick so I can TikTok it" level shilling.

    3. Well, other than Blackman, the authors aren't doing it on a more than daily basis, over a two-year plus period.

      Besides, the posts on that other work actually present some of the substance of the books, and of course invite comment. They actually contribute something here. Blackman's daily ads are pretty much just selling the book, and the occasional posts like this are pointless.

      So I don't think it's a fair comparison.

      1. You think Blackman's posts are about his book?

        1. He may be referring to the (occasionally free from error) Today In Supreme Court History clutter.

          1. which...aren't actually about his book in general.

    4. Oh, it's totally Somin.

      You can search the book titles on Reason. Blackman has shilled his book 30-40 times. But Somin has shilled his more than 130 different times.

  4. Is this still the constitutional law book for those who don't care about voting rights?

  5. " "An Introduction To Constitutional Law" Has 1,000 Review on Amazon "

    And the Volokh Conspiracy has zero editor(s)

    1. Tell me you don't understand the concept of a blog without saying that you don't understand the concept of a blog.

  6. I have no problem with authors shilling and promoting their own books. Fair enough. But it seems a bit much to be focusing so much on the number of Amazon reviews...although it's an impressive number, even with Josh creating half of them (I joke, I joke).

    From a psychological perspective; it strikes me as a bit needy, a bit "look how powerful and impressive I am," and therefore, a bit pathetic. For some reason; it reminded me of a short, throwaway scene in the movie, "Pretty Woman." [at about the 20-second mark.]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFG9_kKo7C4

    1. I had the same thought. Act like you've been there before.

    2. Sometimes, it helps to know how popular a book is and how many people think it's good. It can be an additional selling point. It actually is notable to have that many reviews.

      1. AL,
        I don't disagree. Absent other information, I'd be more likely to look at a book with 1,000 good reviews, as compared to a book with 1,000 negative reviews...or a book with very few reviews at all.

        I had intended my observation to be: 'Boy, this comes across as unseemly to me.' I was a therapist before I was a teacher (and a teacher before law school). When I see someone who is loudly screaming out his accomplishments ("Hey. Look at me. Look at what a great job I'm doing. See???...other people think so as well."), my first instinct is to give them a hug, and my second instinct is to then put them on the couch for a few hours, to delve into, "Why the constant need for attention? If you were a bit more modest/circumspect, how do you think people would view you?"

        I really think Josh is compensating for something. What he's compensating for is beyond me--I don't know him, or his backstory, at all, so I have always refused to speculate about this.

        1. "I really think Josh is compensating for something."

          Umm....it's called selling his book. "Look, my book has over 1000 reviews, most of them excellent. You should check it out!". Selling, marketing, advertising....etc.

          1. Nope. 🙂
            If this were his first patting-my-own-back post, then sure . . . you'd be right. But this post (again, only IMO) is merely the latest in a long line of self-congratulatory posts by Josh.

            I find this significant, and behavior worthy of being publicly noted. Your more-charitable explanation very well might be the accurate one . . . I cannot pretend to be unbiased re Josh, although I do my damnest to look at each new post of his with fresh dewy-eyed optimism and with hope for a kinder, gentler, Josh in our new year.

            1. "But this post (again, only IMO) is merely the latest in a long line of self-congratulatory posts by Josh."

              Is it though? Searching the Reason Archives for the title of his book ("An Introduction to Constitutional Law") reveals that Josh did make a number of posts. But this is the first one since February of 2021. Nearly 11 months since his last post about his book.

              Sure, you can publically note it. But the first post about your book in 11 months? That's....not really that bad.

              1. I was not at all clear, and that's my fault. I think Josh pats himself on the back a lot. A LOT. A. LOT. His end-of-the-year summary of his accomplishments, for example, come to mind. I could have done better about observing that Josh thinks/feels like it's really important to tell us, the gentle readers, just how awesome Josh is. My point was definitely not focused on this particular book, and I'm glad you asked, so I could clarify.

              2. His series of posts purportedly about Supreme Court history are largely logrolling for the book. The post recent example came from the hoary depths of yesterday.

                1. "His series of posts purportedly about Supreme Court history are largely logrolling for the book "

                  Really? You think if they'd be logrolling for the book, they'd actually mention the book. Or actually be about Supreme Court Cases, since the book is "100 Supreme Court Cases everyone should know"

                  Half the time, it's a random tidbit unrelated to the book. Today it's "Justice John McLean takes oath."....not exactly a SCOTUS case. Yesterday it was "Justice Peter Daniel's takes the judicial oath" Ditto.

                  1. What do you think those videos he links to are talking about? It's more book than history over there.

        2. sm811, you had a very unusual career track: therapist => teacher => lawyer

          There has to be a great story there. Why the switches?

          1. Mostly burn-out. I did crisis intervention as my therapy specialty, and that was emotionally draining over time. Grad school for Special Ed, and then I taught deaf kids. Loved the teaching, hated the politics (I was genuinely surprised at how much politics was involved in K-12 Ed, and was surprised at how much it soured me on that type of teaching.). Post-law school, most of my legal career has been doing child abuse cases. Some animal-related law stuff as well. So, the usual liberal subjects. 🙂

  7. How do 1,000 book reviews compare to a law professor's base salary?

    1. Well, a better question is, what are the royalties/copyright that Josh is making off the book?

      From the book seller rank on Amazon, we can make a (very) rough approximation of this. Roughly speaking, authors get 5-25% copyright on print copies and 25% on e-books. This can differ dramatically, typically upwards.

      Josh's book is currently selling at $14.74 for the Kindle version, and $22 for the print version on Amazon. While I'm sure Josh has the actual numbers (and even sells it off amazon), we'll just have a little fun here. Let's assume he gets 10% of the print copy price and 12.5% of the e-book price. (Remember, Randy gets a cut).

      Josh's book is currently ranked 13,613 in books, and 35,289 e-books. For all books, overall. There's a handy site which estimates how many sales this actually is. It comes out to 110 ebook sales a month and 289 actual book sales a month.

      With that, some handy math comes out to $202 a month for the e-book sales, and $635 a month for the actual book sales. ~~$800 a month. Call it about $10,000 a year in copyright income. Potentially $20,000 a year in copyright income, given there are other, non-amazon sellers. But probably closer to $10,000 a year.

      So, a nice check...but it doesn't compete with the law school professor outcome. Just my estimates mind you.

      1. Hmm. Interesting. Thanks for the info.

        Do you have a link to that hand site that you mentioned in your post? I'd enjoy playing around with that. (How many Harry Potter books are sold each month, in 2022?) 🙂

          1. Thanks for the link. For a book (like my prior example of Harry Potter...let's say, book 7) that has many many different sellers, is the book ranking that's given for just that seller? Or does Amazon's algorithm add up all the different sellers' orders for that one title?

            Only if you know off-hand...I might be overthinking this.

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