In less than two months, George W. Bush's book "Decision Points" has sold almost as many copies as Bill Clinton's book sold in six years. Salon's Alex Pareene is baffled by this information, noting the stark contrast in popularity between the two presidents upon leaving office and the strong feeling of Clinton nostalgia present during the Bush years. As a reporter at The Daily Mail put it, "For someone who mangled words on a regular basis, it's an impressive feat."
Pareene proposes several explanations for the books extraordinary success such as the possibility that the book's publisher, Crown Publishing Group, who released the numbers in a press release, is lying; Clinton's book is more expensive; and conservative parents might be giving the book as a joke to their "deadbeat hippie kids." Perhaps more realistic is Pareene's suggestion that people are buying Bush's book in hopes of finally understanding the reasoning behind some of his most controversial decisions as president:
And there are probably a lot of people who are buying it just to see if the guy feels bad about anything, or if he's still the same cheerfully contented guy he's been his entire adult life. While a lot of people might've bought "My Life" to see how Clinton explained some of his own questionable decisions, that particular president had already spent a lot of time explaining himself.
Pareene also suggests Bush's higher current approval ratings might indicate some degree of Bush nostalgia, though he acknowledges that "on the other hand, Clinton nostalgia was pretty pervasive during the first decade of the 2000s and it didn't boost his book sales." What about Conservative book clubs? Pareene notes that such groups "purchase tens of thousands of copies and right-wing think tanks order right-wing books in bulk," he explains whereas "there was no progressive equivalent of the right-wing book-buying machine to boost Clinton's book when it was released." Pareene, in a move that may raise some eyebrows elsewhere, quickly rejects the idea that Decision Points is actually a good book and settles on what he believes is the real reason for the books rapid sales: "Bush's book is shorter than Clinton's. It's half the size. Americans hate reading. I think this is it, actually."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.