NSA Scandal Sends Sales of George Orwell's '1984' Soaring on Amazon

Colin Dunn, Flickr.com
A complementary commercial winner-and-loser pair has emerged from the disclosure of the NSA's domestic data dragnet, one that would surely bring a thin-lipped smile to the face of Eric Arthur Blair, the English Democratic Socialist who wrote as George Orwell: While Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), the defense contractor that employed leaker Edward Snowden, has seen its stock plummet since the revelation of its connection to the scandal, Amazon's (AMZN) sales of "1984," Orwell's classic dystopian novel of surveillance and control, have skyrocketed.

The LA Times reports that sales of the book, which concerns a discontented propagandist working for the Ministry of Truth in a time of endless war, are up 5,771 percent as of Tuesday morning. From a sales rank of 12,507 in the days before The Guardian published top-secret government documents provided by Snowden, "1984" has risen to crack Amazon's top 200.

As of this writing, both the Signet Classics paperback edition and a hardcover volume, "Animal Farm and 1984," appear on Amazon's list of "Movers & Shakers: The biggest gainers in Books sales rank over the past 24 hours," as numbers 16 (up 139 percent) and 11 (up 274 percent), respectively. "1984" has of course gotten a lot of free advertising over the last week, as NSA opponents have compared the government's methods to the nightmarish excesses of the totalitarian regime Orwell imagined.

The LA Times notes that President Obama alluded to "1984" on Friday when speaking in defense of his policies: "In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details, then I think we've struck the right balance." Big Brother is the novel's Party leader, surrounded by a cult of personality and committed to rooting out so-called thoughtcrime, or inward deviations from political orthodoxy.

As The Washington Examiner observed, June 6 was the novel's 60th anniversary. Nearly 30 years ago, it provided the inspiration for one of Apple's (AAPL) most successful advertisements, a Super Bowl spot directed by Ridley Scott that likened the Macintosh computer to a rebellious heroine resisting slavish conformity. According to U.S. News, "1984" is a favorite read of the young Republican users of politically-inflected matchmaking service RedStateDate, along with the Bible and novels by Ayn Rand.

Strangely enough, while Amazon isn't one of the Internet companies tied to the spying program known as PRISM, the e-commerce giant has already tried to join forces with the national security state. In March, Federal Computer Week broke the news that Amazon was working with the CIA to build a cloud computing network in a deal worth up to $600 million. Last week, however, the Government Accountability Office sided with IBM (IBM), which had protested the awarding of the contract, and recommended that the agency reopen negotiations on the project. The CIA has two months to respond.

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Listen to the song, "Cult of Personality" by the band "Living Colour". That band wrote it 2 decades or so ago.....Truly listen to it. They almost, by accident, nailed President Obama to a "T".

June 13 2013 at 5:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

On Amazon???

Don't they realize that Big Brother is watching?

June 13 2013 at 1:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"you've read the book now buy the album" - David Lee Roth 1984

June 13 2013 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Many times over the past five years, I have thought that the most important required-reading books in my high school were Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm", and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World."

"Animal Farm" contains the classic formulation: "All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others." Remind you of anything happening right now? IRS, anybody?!?!

June 12 2013 at 11:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I am swimming to Cuba ,and will live in the mountains with the monkeys .

June 12 2013 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In Orwell's "Animal Farm" the pigs become the rulers (sound familiar) and they declare that "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others". Is it just me or does that sound like Congress?

June 12 2013 at 6:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

One of the few times the movie was better than the book.

June 12 2013 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If youre going to read 1984, get Huxley's Brave New World as a companion. Written in 1931, its eerie how accurately it nails 2013.

June 12 2013 at 2:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Im convinced that if O told his followers to put a gun to their heads and shoot themselves, far too many O-bots would obediently and gleefully do so. They will mindlessly follow him off the cliff when he crashes and burns. Really, what has happened to us, America? Do we really need a 40 pound brick to the forehead to wake up and see the truth?

June 12 2013 at 2:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gendroffendr's comment

So true. The Obama cult.

June 12 2013 at 3:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Do yourself a favor and read it if you didn't in 8th grade like the rest of us liberals.

June 12 2013 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply