The book “How to Be an Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi, has sold almost 2 million printed copies, e-books and audiobooks since it came out two years ago, according to its publisher, an astonishing sales figure more commonly associated with books about Donald Trump than titles on difficult social issues.
But other books being published on race in America come from a very different perspective, including “I Can’t Breathe: How a Racial Hoax Is Killing America,” “Race Crazy: BLM, 1619, and the Progressive Racism Movement” and “Blackout: How Black America Can Make Its Second Escape from the Democrat Plantation.”
Since George Floyd’s murder last year, books on race and racism have driven the publishing industry in ways that have been both eye-popping and profitable. But as the national conversation about racism has become a ferocious battle, conservative publishers see gold in titles catering to the backlash.
“Blackout,” by the right-wing media personality Candace Owens, has sold 480,000 copies across formats since it was published last fall by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. “American Marxism,” by the best-selling author Mark R. Levin, which devotes a chapter to critical race theory, sold 400,000 books in just its first week on the market last month. “Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe,” by Voddie T. Baucham Jr., has sold 90,000 print copies since it was published this spring by Salem Books, a Christian imprint that is part of Regnery Publishing.
The success of Baucham’s book “just surprised the daylights out of me,” said Thomas Spence, president and publisher of Regnery. “I was not at all suspecting that. But it struck a chord.”
Hoping to capitalize on this kind of interest, Salem Books recently published “Christianity and Wokeness,” by Owen Strachan, which describes wokeness in the jacket copy as “a potent blend of racism, paganism and grievance” that “encourages ‘partiality’ and undermines the unifying work of the Holy Spirit.”