– ” is at the top of various Amazon ebook charts and has enjoyed a record year of digital sales “
– number one in Amazon UK’s Propanda & Spin chart. It is also number one in Fascism & Nazism and number two in Political Science & Ideology
Adolf Hitler’s notorious manifesto is being read privately on ereaders by people who don’t want to be seen with a printed copy
By Jon Stock
2:35PM GMT 09 Jan 2014
Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi manifesto, is at the top of various Amazon ebook charts and has enjoyed a record year of digital sales, unlike print editions of the book, which have remained minimal.
A 99p edition of the book, published by a Sao Paulo-based company called Montecristo Editora, is currently number one in Amazon UK’s Propanda & Spin chart. It is also number one in Fascism & Nazism and number two in Political Science & Ideology.
Amazon do not reveal sales figures for any of their charts, but a more significant indicator is the book’s overall position in the Paid Kindle Store, where it is currently at 997. It is at 788 in the same chart on Amazon’s US site.
Analysts are comparing its sales to the phenomenal success of the S&M novel Fifty Shades of Grey, the first paid for ebook to be downloaded more than a million times on Kindle.
“Current rankings suggest Mein Kampf could be following a similar trend to that of smut and romance novels,” says journalist and author Chris Faraone, writing for the US digital news website Vocativ. “People might not have wanted to…have it delivered to their home or displayed on their living room bookshelf, let alone get spotted reading it on a subway, but judging by hundreds of customer comments online, readers like that digital copies can be quietly perused then dropped into a folder or deleted.”
Ebook sales of Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) took off in America in 2013, when a James Murphy translation went on sale for 99 cents. Elite Minds, its California-based publisher, used the digital version to promote more expensive audio and print versions of the book. Michael Ford, President of Elite Minds, told Faraone that “sales are great”, but admitted to a “moral dilemma in promotion”, fearing that he was pushing something “that could be misused”.
Ford added: “I have not heavily promoted the book and decided, for the most part, to let it spread among those who have a true historical and academic interest naturally.”
Ebook sales are also currently strong in India and Turkey, where a cheap paperback version became a bestseller when it was published in 2005.
The original book, published in two volumes in 1925-6, sold ten million copies during Hitler’s lifetime and was a source of considerable personal income for the dictator. (Sales were helped by the German government’s decision to purchase and distribute six million copies to soldiers and citizens.)
At one point, it is estimated that Hitler was earning US $1million a year – equivalent to US$12 million in today’s money, according to Celebrity Networth. His total income from the book during his lifetime is estimated to be the equivalent of $US152 million.
Distribution of royalties from Mein Kampf since Hitler’s death has been a source of considerable controversy and the current boom in ebook sales is sure to reignite a debate about who, if anyone, should profit from the book.
Ford says that he will use the earnings “to develop other products that help people”. Montecristo Editora have not commented on what they will do with any profits from their ebook.
When Hitler committed suicide in 1945, the book’s copyright passed to the State of Bavaria’s Finance Ministry, where the publishers had been registered before their liquidation. Hitler’s nephew, Leo Raubal, might have had a prior claim, but he refused to have anything to do with the book or its considerable royalties.
Since then, the Bavarian authorities have forbidden any copy to be published in Germany and it can only be sold for research purposes. Next year, seventy years after his death, the book comes out of copyright and anyone will be entitled to publish it in Germany.
There have been fewer restrictions on the book overseas. In the UK, publication was banned from 1945 to 1969. Random House, who own the UK copyright, donate all proceeds from the book to charity. In 2001, the Telegraph revealed that the German Welfare Council, a London-based charity set up to help Jewish victims of the Holocaust, had received more than £500,000 in royalty payments from Random House since 1976.