Friday, January 10, 2014

The Very Last Book I Expected To Be Popular On The E-Book Market

Mein Kampf. As in, the Hitler book. People are buying it on the iTunes bookstore, in large quantities, and by all accounts, most of these people are not neo-Nazis.

So let's just jump right to the obvious question: why? Why in the hell? The thought, according to several people commenting on the matter and which seems to make sense to other people commenting on the matter, is basically this: Who among us has actually read the damn thing? Very few. And most of us would like very much to keep it that way, and in fact encourage others to keep it that way, because unless you're a professional historian, best not to give Hitler any more of a platform, and besides, he sucked at writing.

But there are others for whom the curiosity gets to be too much. They, for whatever reason- research; a hate-read (the way you'd hate-watch a bad TV show); the 'those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it' principle; the simple fact that it's a historically important book, albeit in a very different way from the likes of Uncle Tom's Cabin or Huckleberry Finn- decide that they need to at least have a look. But they can't exactly go down to their local bookstore and say "I would like your finest copy of Mein Kampf, garcon", because first, that is language you would use in a restaurant, second, the waiter would dump hot gravy into your lap for being so pretentious, and third, the bookstore clerk would dump hot gravy into your lap because you just tried to buy a copy of Mein Kampf. Nor would a library be particularly keen on carrying a copy either. And good luck trying to read it in the break room at work.

So how do you read a copy of Mein Kampf when it isn't socially acceptable to obtain one in public? You buy an e-book, where nobody's going to see you buying it or reading it. Of course, this raises another issue: you spend money on it. Even though there are versions available for free. Which means someone else makes money off of it, even if only about a buck and a half a pop.

People, if you for some reason feel it's necessary to read the thing, that's one matter. I'm not exactly approving- there is the occasional book throughout history that I think might be best left to rot, and Mein Kampf is among them- but if you have your reasons, as long as they're not horrible and racist, you have your reasons. But for the love of all that's holy, don't go creating a market for it. Let's try and draw the line somewhere ahead of the point where we're making a market for Nazi paraphernalia. That's just creepy.

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