Some say truth is stranger than fiction, and some get worried when they think the truth is starting to look like fiction. Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration last week, George Orwell’s 1984, a classic story about a dystopian future in what is no longer the United States of America, has become a much talked about book online, due to many of Trump’s detractors comparing our current status to that of the book. Whether you believe it or not, the viewpoint is getting a lot of traction, because Penguin is now publishing more copies of the 68-year-old novel than ever before.
A spokesperson for Penguin publishing said that while reprints of the book are common because it’s often studied in school, these current numbers are unprecedented. “We put through a 75,000-copy reprint this week. That is a substantial reprint and larger than our typical reprint for 1984.”
In fact, 1984 is currently sitting atop Amazon’s best seller list after breaking into the top 10 on Monday. So is this resurgence in popularity based on an overreaction? Fear? Coincidence? General interest? It’s hard to say, but many believe that the Orwell comparison—which started on election day—has been heightened due to Kellyanne Conway’s use of the term “alternative facts.” In 1984, the government speaks to the public through what they call “Newspeak,” a language carefully designed to confuse and manipulate both the media and society. There is also a government agency whose role is to erase all “falsehoods” from the government, thus allowing them to rewrite history and change the narrative, no matter how outlandish it may be.
This isn’t the first time 1984 saw a sales spike due to government controversies. Back in 2013, the book saw an astronomical increase in sales (5,800 percent) during the Edward Snowden scandal.