Sales of “1984,” George Orwell’s 1949 classic novel about the oppressiveness of government overreach and life in a world where there is no place to escape the watchful eye of Big Brother, have risen more than 3,000 percent on Amazon since the country learned of the U.S. government surveillance programs.
As of noon today, the book was number 5 on the “movers and shakers list,” which represent the biggest gains in sales over the past 24 hours. The book’s sales rank had jumped to 194, from 6,750 Monday.
The dystopian novel chronicles the plight of Winston Smith, a member of the government working in the fictional dictatorship Oceania. Smith is dissatisfied with his work and dreams of rebellion against totalitarianism.
The book aims to serve as a warning for what can happen when government overextends its powers; the term “Orwellian” has become associated with the idea of a totalitarian society. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., used it Monday on MSNBC to describe the NSA surveillance program, telling Chris Hayes, “Kids will grow up knowing that every damned thing that they do is going to be recorded someplace in a file. And I think that will have a very Orwellian and very prohibiting impact on the way we live our lives.”
Liz Keenan, director of publicity for Plume publishing, which produced Orwell’s book, told ABC News that sales of “1984″ always spike this time of the year because teachers and students are buying copies for summer reading, but the increase has never been this large.
“Without a doubt, this has a lot to do with surveillance coverage,” she said.
Keenan also said that book sales of classics typically spike when a controversial event happens, citing the rise in sales of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged” during the 2008 financial crisis.