21 June 2010

Glenn Beck's Impact On What America's Reading

FA Hayek's classic The Road to Serfdom typically sells around 7000 copies a year. The year Barack Obama was elected President, it sold 30,000 copies. Recently, Glenn Beck did a program about the warnings contained in Hayek's book. The following week, the book sold 70,000 copies. Yes, you read that right - 70,000 copies in one week.

From the NYT Bestseller Inside the List column:

"After Beck’s program, the book sold about 60,000 to 70,000 copies in one week. This surge came too late to push the book onto this week’s paperback nonfiction list, which records sales until June 12. But stay tuned."



martin said...

I confess, I knew of the book, but never read it. After watching Beck's show, I bought it. I have about 100 pages left. It is a terrific book and much more accessible than I had figured it would be.

In fact, it's given me material for several recent posts on whatwouldthefoundersthink.com.

The edition that you list also has some pretty interesting things in the appendices. In particular, there is an essay that Hayek wrote in 1933, which essentially predicted some of what was likely to happen (and did) in Germany.

So, yes, Beck does have a big impact on what people are reading. Check out the top 100 sellers on Amazon! But, it's not as though he is dictating that folks should read propaganda. He urges people to read original sources and time tested books that are of inarguable value. How anyone can honestly dispute that is beyond me.

Marcus said...


I have tried to understand all of this economic stuff by Hayek, but to no real avail. Could you explain to me how you believe his ideas are relevant today?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Economic principles are no different than gravity and other laws of the universe. Immutable laws and principles are always relevant. Hayek was a classical liberal whose work (this book) is basically a treatise on the failures of central planning and the benefits of free individuals making economic decisions in their self-interest in free markets. IN a nutshell, it is pro-liberty, anti-government control. Hayek, along with other free market economists correctly put forth the argument that government intervention in the marketplace exasperates the "problem" or "inequities" that governments ostensibly claim to be correcting. Case in point - healthcare.

He is of the Austrian school and not all free-market capitalists agree with all of his ideas. Google him and you will find enough information to keep you busy for a while. But I think I've described his basic philosophy accurately.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello Martin. It is primarily statists and academics (often the same in the current political class) that ridicule Beck - "ex-drunk, Mormon, radio jockey, etc, etc." Sure, he misspeaks from time to time, but the ad hominem attacks are so predictable coming from the left now they're really not worth addressing. As they watch their Utopian theories crumble around them, I suppose it's about all they have left.