For bookstores, elections are seldom good for business. At BookPeople in Austin, Tex., for example, Tuesday’s voting caused sales to plummet by 47%, according to CEO Steve Bercu. But one author benefitted from the election, or more particularly from calling everything right except the North Dakota Senate race, New York Times statistician and fivethreeeight blogger Nate Silver. His September release, The Signal and the Noise, jumped 850% on Amazon to the #2 spot, behind Jeff Kinney’s latest Wimpy Kid release, Third Wheel. It’s back a little farther in the paid Kindle store at #16.
Silver’s Monday night discussion of pundits with Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central didn’t hurt sales, or his return victory visit to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Wednesday. Pre-election, The Signal and the Noise was looking like a solid first book with sales of 22,000 copies at stores tracked by Nielsen BookScan. According to a spokesperson for publisher Penguin Press, who declined to give total in-print figures, the book has gone back to press four times.
For brick-and-mortar booksellers, the election has caused scarcely a bump in Silver sales largely because, as Serena Longo, supervisor at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., notes, “it’s been selling quite well since we first got it. It’s on the store’s bestseller wall, and we’re going to be featuring if for our Holiday 100.” The story’s the same at Washington, D.C.’s Politics & Prose, where co-owner Bradley Graham says, “Many of our customers were already buying it in significant numbers before the vote. The book has seen strong sales since early October when Silver was at the store for a talk. It’s currently #6 on our bestseller list.”
And then there are those areas like Texas and Nebraska, where the vote hasn’t moved the needle much past empty on Silver’s book. At BookPeople sales have not been strong, and The Bookworm in Omaha has had two copies since October. According to manager Diana Abbott, no one has even asked about it. With reporting by Claire Kirch.