Conservative Books Now Dumber and Crazier, Much Like the Whole Conservative Movement

On Friday, McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed detailed two major developments over the past decade or so that, according to some on the right, have hurt conservative book publishing: specialty imprints such as Threshold Editions have had the effect of relegating most righty books to a "niche" a la "science fiction or nutritional self-help guides," and this segregation has created economic pressure for those imprints to issue titles by "cable news and radio provocateurs" instead of "combative intellectuals" in the tradition of the late Allan Bloom.

Coppins presents the massive popularity of Bloom's 1987 work The Closing of the American Mind as the Big Bang for right-leaning books. He opines that it forced establishment publishers to realize "a potentially lucrative fact: Conservatives knew how to read."

From Coppins's piece:

The conservative book business has seen better days...[M]any leading figures in the conservative literati fear the market has devolved into an echo of cable news...

...[S]everal editors, agents, and executives faulted the same trend they were celebrating in 2003, when mainstream publishers began elevating conservative editors, like Adam Bellow and Adrian Zackheim, and luring high-profile Republican figures like consultant Mary Matalin into the book business...

...[W]hat followed was the genrefication of conservative literature...


While best-sellers by famous pundits like Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus, and Charles Krauthammer’s Things That Matter continue to give conservative publishing a veneer of wild success, publishers say the ruthless competition on the right has made it increasingly difficult to turn a profit on midlist books...

In a post pegged to Coppins's story, Kevin Drum of Mother Jones sniped:

I always blamed Barack Obama for the death of conservative publishing, but I suppose it's all part of the same dynamic that Coppins is talking about. Basically, Obama drove conservatives into such frenzies of hysteria that their books lost the potential to appeal to anyone except the most hardcore dittoheads...

When everyone turns the dial to 11, you aren't a niche anymore. You're just a crackpot fringe. In this way, the death spiral of conservative publishing is merely a reflection of the death spiral of modern conservatism.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters