NEW YORK -- These are boom times for conservative authors.
Michelle Malkin's "Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies" spent weeks at No. 1 on The New York Times nonfiction list. Sales have been strong for Dick Morris' anti-Obama "Catastrophe" and the reissue of "The Five Thousand Year Leap," by W. Cleon Skousen.
And Sarah Palin may top them all.
In a feat usually reserved for the likes of J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown, Palin's book was No. 1 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com just two days after Harper announced it had moved up the release date from the spring to Nov. 17 and that the memoir's title was "Going Rogue."
Palin's 432-page memoir, still No. 1 on Friday, has been given a first printing of 1.5 million copies and booksellers have begun fighting for sales. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cut the $28.99 list price by more than half, to $13.50, and Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com are offering "Going Rogue" for $15.65, a 45 percent discount.
Although she resigned abruptly last summer as governor, and the Republican ticket of Sen. John McCain and Palin was decisively beaten in the 2008 election, "Going Rogue" will surely outsell the memoir of her Democratic counterpart, Vice President Joe Biden, and likely approach the million-selling heights of President Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope."
People are also reading…
"I know a lot of people who are surprised by this," says Adrian Zackheim, president and publisher of Sentinel, a conservative imprint of Penguin Group (USA). "There was some question as to whether her popularity was still intact after she resigned as governor and some question as to whether the original following was still with her. The answer to these questions is pretty unequivocal."
"Movement conservatives are voting with their dollars to endorse the values they believe Sarah Palin represents," says Twelve publisher Jonathan Karp, who has published books by McCain and by a liberal favorite, the late Ted Kennedy, whose "True Compass" came out last month.
"In a similar way, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and Mark Levin provide an opportunity for ideologically motivated consumers to see their views validated. It's the political equivalent of attending a Grateful Dead concert. Pure and simple, it's market democracy."
Karp calls the title "brilliant" and says it "suggests she'll let it all hang out," a likely attraction for customers on Amazon, which lists purchasers of Palin's book as also buying "Glenn Beck's Common Sense" and Levin's "Liberty and Tyranny."
Palin herself has said that "Going Rogue" will give her a chance to express herself "unfiltered," a bold brand for a public figure who has likened herself to a pit bull with lipstick and once alleged that Obama was "palling around with terrorists." Palin's collaborator, Lynn Vincent, has her own history of attacking the left. She is the co-author of "Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party."
"That sounds pretty lively," says Marji Ross, president of Regnery Publishing, which released Malkin's book. "Palin is certainly well positioned to take on the bureaucrats and government establishment, but she also may be positioning herself for a run at the (2012) nomination and that might have its own discipline."
"Palin is going to appeal to anyone interested in American culture right now," says Harper publisher Jonathan Burnham, who declined to offer specifics on the book, whether content or tone.
"Although she has a very strong conservative following, who are with her through thick and thin, she has this large cultural presence that exerts a great deal of fascination. And what we're seeing here are two vectors coming together."
The very existence of a Democratic administration means material for conservatives. In the 1990s, Ann Coulter and Barbara Olson were among those who wrote best-selling attacks against President Bill Clinton. Al Franken, Michael Moore and other liberals were popular authors during the Bush administration. Now, says Ross, as Democrats reign in Washington, "conservatives have been energized."
"They have really come out of the lethargy they were stuck in last year," she says.
Burnham declined comment on how or whether Palin's memoir would be fact-checked. (Publishers traditionally rely on authors to tell their story straight.) Liberals are ready to step in. The Progressive Book Club and Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog group, will soon start a joint project to fact-check upcoming conservative releases. "Going Rogue" is high on the list.
"These books are often riddled with sloppy and demonstrably false claims," says Media Matters senior fellow Karl Frisch. "We feel we have good reason to keep our eye on Sarah Palin."
Burnham declined comment on Frisch's remarks. He said the manuscript, much of it written over the summer, was "extremely strong" and covers everything from her family to Alaska to her vice presidential run.
"It's Palin, up close and personal," he says.