As eBooks continue to flourish, Hitler’s Mein Kampf has found new readers 90 years after the anti-Semitic manuscript was first produced. Sales of the printed version have languished for years, but in 2013 eBook sales of the same title have taken off.
One possible reason for that is the “discretion factor” afforded readers of material on digital devices. Kindles and iPads do not come with book covers and author’s headshots emblazoned on back sleeves for all on the subway to peruse. In the same way that a person can discreetly read Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James without drawing attention to themselves, they can now read Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler without the worry associated with passed judgement surrounding wrappings that identify the work.
The brick and mortar bookstores have traditionally been the outlet for literature and, as such, are organized in an efficient manner. Books are categorized and displayed at strategic points throughout the store. Bestsellers will quite often be found near the entrance and scholarly books toward the back. In between, categories are arranged to draw the customer in. Space is limited; and, due to the controversial nature of some books, they may be tucked away in a corner or not available at all. Chapters-Indigo in Canada has not carried Mein Kampf since 2001, in any format.
Modesty can also be a factor in sales. This is where eBooks are making inroads. The Kindles, Kobos, and iPads all provide a platform where new readers can buy books like Hitler’s Mein Kampf and read them in plain sight without drawing suspicion; and, if there is a hiccup, the material in question can be closed or thrown away with the click of an icon.
Copies of Mein Kampf have been selling well on Amazon and at the iBookstore. With digital versions available for less than a dollar, readers are snapping up something that many might well have been too embarrassed to buy at their local bookstore.
The original manuscript dates back to 1923 when Adolf Hitler was imprisoned for treason after the failed Beer Hall Putsch. He spent his incarceration at the Landsberg am Lech prison, where he dictated Mein Kampf (My Struggle) to fellow prisoner Rudolph Hess. In the book, Hitler outlined his ideas on superior and inferior races, with the German Aryan race being the former and the Jewish being the latter.
He also outlined his beliefs in Lebensraum, the term denoting “living space” for the German people. It was his belief that Germans needed space beyond their borders to grow as a people. That space was to come from the Slavs and the Russians.
The first edition of the book was laden with grammatical errors but sold well nonetheless as he played skillfully to a national sentiment that was badly bruised after the Versailles Treaty ended World War 1.
The book gained traction and made Hitler a wealthy man; and, by 1945, it is estimated that 10 million copies had been sold or distributed in Germany. There was even a wedding version.
As controversial as the book remains, Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler has found a new stream of readers on a discrete platform that allows the option to cast aside self censorship….and that equals soaring sales.
By Scott Wilson