Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler’s memoirs, appears to be doing well on e-book charts in recent times. Oddly, the fascist tell-all continues to successfully compete against both classics and recent releases. Sure, Mein Kampf doesn’t often manage to reach the number one spot, but its staying power is remarkable. Two digital versions of Hitler’s book are, in fact, in the top 20 spot in iTunes’ Politics & Current Events ranked charts right now. Mein Kampf’s also ranked four out of four stars from 92 ratings to boot. Yikes.
It’s not just an iTunes fluke either. Amazon’s Kindle e-book store has an English version of Mein Kampf which continues to claim the top spot on the store’s Propaganda & Political Psychology chart. However, on Amazon, Mein Kampf isn’t enjoyed as much as it is among iPad users with a ranking of only four out of five stars. Mein Kampf also makes regular appearances near the top of other various Amazon e-book charts, such as Globalization. The nonprofit Internet Archive has also seen more than 100,000 downloads of the book.
What’s happening here? Mein Kampf has never really been a commercial success in the US. It appeared for a time on The New York Times‘ nonfiction charts back when it was released in 1939 (in print of course — the Kindle was still a few years off). Since then, sales of Mein Kampf have dropped off — no doubt Americans weren’t eager to read Adolf Hitler’s mad ramblings once the US joined the war. And since then, most of the world has acknowledged the realities of Hitler’s genocidal legacy, a guaranteed sales killer. As such, Mein Kampf hasn’t had a ton of luck making money for publishers in print. Some publishers have altogether ceased to print the tome.
With the rise of e-books, however, English translations of Mein Kampf have appeared on both major online stores. Despite more than 100 different versions for sale on Amazon, the six e-books rank among the most popular.
It’s unclear why there has been a recent surge in MeinKampf‘s popularity. Perhaps it’s the low price (often found for only $0.99). Maybe curiosity about reading Mein Kampf, the profane memoirs of one of the most infamous men in human history, has a type of forbidden appeal. It is not unlike the meteoric rise of 50 Shades of Grey and the curiosity surrounding taboo sexuality.
More than anything, though, digital books are purchased, transported, and read with relative privacy. Rather than face a book store cashier’s questioning glare, one can simply download Mein Kampf over a wireless network to a mobile device. Mein Kampf can then be carried in public within an iPad, leaving no one the wiser. A person could even sit down on the subway and read a chapter without possible embarrassment.
While it is distressing to note that Mein Kampf has been doing well on e-book charts, it would be far more shocking if anyone has managed to actually trudge through Adolf Hitler’s rambling tome in its entirety.