George Orwell’s “1984” is topping Amazon’s best sellers

A lot of people are picking up copies.
A lot of people are picking up copies.
Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

George Orwell’s classic 1984 has rocketed up Amazon’s book charts.

The iconic story about a future dystopia reached the top of the company’s list of overall best sellers today before sinking to second (Amazon updates its bestsellers hourly). It was also selling well at competing bookseller Barnes & Noble, where it ranked second among the company’s top 100 titles.

Several factors are driving renewed interest in the book and Google searches for related terms. On Jan. 7, Josh Hawley, a Republican senator from Missouri, tweeted it was “Orwellian” after Simon & Schuster, a major US publisher, cancelled a contract for his upcoming book The Tyranny of Big Tech. The move followed widespread criticism of Hawley for challenging the results of the November election and accusations the senator helped incite the mob that stormed the Capitol after he was photographed raising a fist towards the crowd of Trump supporters.

Donald Trump Jr. invoked the book as well last week when describing Twitter’s suspension of his father, the US president.

The book’s sales also might have gotten a boost yesterday after news broke that 1984 would also become a television series, based on Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s 2013 stage show of the same name. Former ABC chief Paul Lee’s independent studio Wiip has optioned the rights to the theater production for a five-part limited series, according to Deadline.

A repeat bestseller

This is the second time 1984 has become a best-seller during the Trump presidency.

Following Trump’s win in 2016, terms like “post-truth” and “alt-right” rose in popularity to describe modern fascism. Then in January 2017, Penguin USA (now Penguin Random House) ordered 75,000 new copies of the book and said it was considering another reprint due to a 9,500% bump in sales, according to the New York Times. The publisher cited an interview by then-Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, where she defended a false claim from Sean Spicer, the first Trump administration press secretary, about the size of the inauguration crowds. She responded to NBC News host Chuck Todd by saying, Spicer simply “gave alternative facts.”