The Iowa caucuses are still months away, but one presidential hopeful has already pulled far ahead in the 2016 conservative book sales primary: Dr. Ben Carson.
Carson's book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America's Future, has sold a whopping 362,813 hardcover copies to date, according to Nielsen BookScan, a service that tracks most bookstore sales.
To compare: If you take the combined hardcover sales of every other book written by a current Republican presidential contender since 2010 and add them together, you only get 252,177.
Carson's dominance as an author has not necessarily translated to frontrunner status in the GOP presidential primaries, where he generally polls among the top cluster of candidates — at around 10% — but has not pulled away from the pack.
The book's success does, however, illustrate how Carson's specialized brand of charisma, emphasis on personal biography, and proud defiance of political correctness appeals to the book-buying masses of the Republican base.
It also comes at a moment when the conservative publishing industry has grown so large, and competitive, that many on the right fear it's unsustainable. BuzzFeed News explored this phenomenon last year, in part, by examining the quadrennial rush to put out campaign manifestos by prospective presidential candidates. Publishing sources described bidding wars among the proliferation of conservative imprints, which have led to soaring advances that couldn't be economically justified. Often, campaigns and political action committees end up spending thousands of dollars to inflate the books' sales numbers.
So far, Carson's book is shaping up to be a rare runaway bestseller in the sub-genre of candidate lit.
From BookScan, here are the total hardcover sales for each book released since 2010 by one of the current Republican presidential contenders:
American Dreams, by Marco Rubio: 7,807 hardcover copies sold
Unintimidated, by Scott Walker: 19,096
Taking a Stand, by Rand Paul: 7,795
Rising to the Challenge, by Carly Fiorina: 2,620
Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush: 4,905
God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, by Mike Huckabee: 65,939
Leadership and Crisis, by Bobby Jindal: 20,080
Midas Touch, by Donald Trump: 21,424
Fed Up!, by Rick Perry: 27,264
An American Son, by Marco Rubio: 36,786
Bella's Gift, by Rick Santorum: 6,112
American Patriots, by Rick Santorum: 6,831
Government Bullies, by Rand Paul: 10,818
The Tea Party Goes To Washington, by Rand Paul: 10,778
Blue Collar Conservatives, by Rick Santorum: 3,919
One Nation, by Ben Carson: 362,813
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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