Counter-cyclical asset of the day: Atlas Shrugged

by on February 27, 2009 at 10:40 am in Books | Permalink

Sales of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” have almost tripled over the first seven
weeks of this year compared with sales for the same period in 2008. This
continues a strong trend after bookstore sales reached an all-time annual high
in 2008 of about 200,000 copies sold.

Hat tip to Newmark's Door.

1 Obs February 27, 2009 at 10:46 am

It occurs to me that that movie they’ve been trying to make for years and years may end up being really well timed…

2 Scott Wentland February 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

Does anyone know if this applies to thick books in general?

When the price of leisure is relatively low (i.e. in a recession), it seems reasonable that people might read those thicker books they’ve been postponing.

3 babar February 27, 2009 at 10:58 am

how’s keynes’ sales?

4 james February 27, 2009 at 11:13 am

The problem with Atlas is that many people seem to forget that it is a fictional book. Instead I keep hearing the book cited as empiric evidence to support some particular economic/political policy. Its one women’s universe and its not reality.

5 spencer February 27, 2009 at 11:42 am

The book that every 15 year old should read,
and no adult should take seriously.

6 a student of economics February 27, 2009 at 11:50 am

According to Google trends, for Feb 27, the biggest increase has been in searches for “Great depression cooking with Clara”.

7 jagorev February 27, 2009 at 11:54 am

I can confirm that Keynes’ General Theory is selling exceptionally well, at least in the Social Utopia known as Manhattan.

8 Vernunft February 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Rand did like a few people enough to lift their ethics. Kant, Nietzsche, those types of dudes.

9 Richard February 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm

The notion that Rand hated libertarians is hilarious. Talk about the vanity of petty differences.

10 Scott February 27, 2009 at 1:36 pm

GoodnessofFit:

Once again you prove my long-held theory that it only takes 1/2 hour or 10 comments for someone to accuse fans of Atlas Shrugged of thinking like high schoolers.

It’s all been said before.

11 PMB February 27, 2009 at 1:49 pm

It seems pretty dubious to blame Rand for obnoxious college freshman. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to look at the *best* minds influenced by her?

12 d.cous. February 27, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Oddly, I noticed the book had a pretty prominent place in Borders when I was there just last night. I’ve never read it, and would have considered picking it up if it hadn’t struck me as prohibitively long for an impulse purchase. I’ve found that I don’t generally like fiction by philosophers, anyway.

Richard, if I’ve never read the book, does that make me a less-than-devout libertarian?

Actually, what is the big connection between Libertarians and Rand’s fiction? Do you have to agree with a book’s philosophy to like it?

13 Jeremt February 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Ayn Rand herself said that she didn’t like the libertarian movement and she didn’t consider herself a libertarian (though I don’t recall her reasoning).

You do not have to have read her book to be a devout libertarian at all. And, I think the book is still good (though probably more difficult to read), even if you don’t agree with her philosophy. However, for many people who don’t agree with her philosophy, I think they don’t like the message of the book, and therefore criticize its quality. I think the book itself is not of a great quality, but the story that undergirds the book is intriguing and thrilling at times.

14 bbartlog February 27, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Similary Rand had nasty things to say about Nietzsche (in the process revealing that she hadn’t understood anything he had to say). Too lazy to dig up the quote. But nathan is more right than vernunft realized.

15 Anonymous February 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I follow the concepts in this book every day with my business and it has flourished brilliantly. There are numerous multi-national corporations that do the same. You can run from this truth all you want, your subscription isn’t required.

16 cultivating indifference February 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I liked this guy’s take on the book:

“Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: ‘To a gas chamber — go!'”

http://www.nationalreview.com/flashback/flashback200501050715.asp

17 Greg Ransom February 27, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Hayek’s _The Road to Serfdom_ has been in the top 500 at Amazon for weeks.

18 Andrew February 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Of course the sales of teh book have nothing to do with the movie. Just like the sales of “the Reader”. Oh wait…

19 Barkley Rosser February 27, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Well, she also liked that Deep Thinker, Nathaniel Branden,
that is until she did not anymore, snark, snark…

20 Brent Royal-Gordon February 27, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Rand hated capital-L Libertarians because she believed they lifted her conclusions without accepting their premises, and in the process turned a sober philosophy into a justification for hippiedom (or something). It’s not unlike the disdain more conservative Catholics express towards “cafeteria Catholics”.

Granted, she also believed that the only music worth listening to was classical, which shows what she knew.

21 Andrew February 27, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Chris,

It’s hard to write a book about everyman. Is every novel with characters and heroes based on Rand’s philosophy?

I never got the impression that it was only the handful of characters that made the world turn, it was every industrialist and competent tradesman, although Galt, like Rand saw what they thought was the big picture and the cause and effect of constant bureaucratic haranguing.

22 Henry Blankett February 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Who is John Galt? Too bad the free trade hucksters and Wall Street stick-up artists who destroyed everything didn’t sequester themselves away from society like John Galt did; then we’d all be better off.

23 Garth Wood February 28, 2009 at 4:04 am

Who is John Galt?

24 indiana jim February 28, 2009 at 10:01 am

Barkley,

Cheap shot, I think; apparently there are some diaries of hers that one can read indicating that reason as well as emotion were at play in her decision to wash her hands of Branden. I haven’t read them and probably won’t, but I’m probably not going to snark at her about Branden at this point unless I do so.

25 Patrick February 28, 2009 at 1:58 pm

How timely! I was actually just looking to check this book out from the University of Wisconsin – Madison library system. Turns out all of them in Madison are checked out, and I’m having one shipped from UW-Green Bay. Looks like my idea was not a unique one!

26 Happy Camper February 28, 2009 at 7:40 pm

I have to admit that I bought the book. I didn’t finish it, however. Similar to other aberrations, such as Hitler’s bio, Rand’s book is an a sign post of of deranged thought. It is an important because it is a cautionary tale of where humanity should never go.

HC

27 Anderson February 28, 2009 at 8:19 pm

“Atlas Shrugged is one of the core classics that any well educated person must read.”

Yes, do try to fit it in between Mein Kampf and the collected works of Danielle Steel.

28 ballyfager March 2, 2009 at 7:51 am

His name was Wesley Mouch, not Mooch. And his unctuous persona reminds me of Bill Clinton.

29 Ari March 4, 2009 at 3:51 am

Truly an inferior good…

30 KQ June 9, 2009 at 12:25 pm

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