There’s a hot book on the scene — have you heard about it? It’s this wacky vision of a dystopian future where the government is always listening. And oh yeah, it’s George Orwell’s 1984, which was published 64 years ago. Sales of the futuristic cautionary tale to society have been hopping in the wake of the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, with one edition jumping from No. 73797 to No. 125 on the Amazon.com best-seller list.
The “centennial edition” is selling like hot cakes, reports USA Today, climbing more than 5,800% as of Tuesday night. The “Signet Classics” edition rose more modestly from 810 t0 209, but that’s still a jump of 287%.
A Barnes & Noble exec also reportedly said the company has seen a “significant spike in sales” of the book, as well.
“Big Brother” is something that perhaps certain generations never really worried about, until the news broke that the NSA had been given permission to peek at phone records of Verizon customers.
So what does this mean — are book buyers today worried that we really are living in 1984, if not the year, at least the kind of time where original thought is suppressed and the world is dominated by totalitarian regimes? The New Yorker asks that question in of course, a more eloquent fashion than most:
[W]hat will all the new readers and rereaders of Orwell’s classic find when their copy arrives? Is Obama Big Brother, at once omnipresent and opaque? And are we doomed to either submit to the safety of unthinking orthodoxy or endure re-education and face what horrors lie within the dreaded Room 101?
That’s not for us to say. When the news of the NSA surveillance broke, President Barack Obama’s administration defended the NSA’s actions, saying that the collected data “allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.”
In any case, if you haven’t read 1984 (required reading for many a high school student, including yours truly) it’s still a great book, whether we’re living in Orwell’s world or not.
Sales of ‘1984’ spike amid NSA spying scandal [USA Today]