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Sarah Palin Books, Buzz, and Oprah Bump

2 minute read | November 2009

In its first week of publication, Going Rogue: An American Life by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was the highest-selling book of the week in the U.S. according to Nielsen Bookscan, debuting ahead of titles by best-sellers James Patterson and Stephen King whose books also debut that week.

Top 10 Book Sales: Week Of Nov. 16, 2009
Rank Title Author Date of Publication
1 GOING ROGUE: AN AMERICAN LIFE (hardcover) Sarah Palin 11/1/2009
2 I, ALEX CROSS (hardcover) James Patterson 11/1/2009
3 UNDER THE DOME (hardcover) Stephen King 11/1/2009
4 THE LOST SYMBOL (hardcover) Dan Brown 9/1/2009
5 DOG DAYS (hardcover) Jeff Kinney 10/1/2009
6 FORD COUNTY (hardcover) John Grisham 11/1/2009
7 OPEN (hardcover) Andre Agassi 11/1/2009
8 ECLIPSE (trade paperback) Stephenie Meyer 8/1/2009
9 HAVE A LITTLE FAITH (hardcover) Mitch Albom 9/1/2009
10 TWILIGHT (trade paperback) Stephenie Meyer 9/1/2006
Source: The Nielsen Company

In comparison to first week book sales by current or past presidents, or by other vice presidential or presidential contenders, Palin runs second behind Bill Clinton’s memoir, My Life, and just ahead of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s Living History.

Top 10 Political Book Sales First Week
Author Title Year Released First Week Sales*
Bill Clinton My Life 2004 606,000
Sarah Palin Going Rogue 2009 469,000
Hilary Clinton Living History 2003 440,000
Barack Obama The Audacity of Hope 2007 67,000
John McCain Why Courage Matters 2004 6,000
Joe Biden Promises to Keep 2007 5,000
John McCain Worth Fighting For 2002 4,000
John McCain Hard Call 2007 3,000
John McCain Character is Destiny 2005 1,000
George W. Bush We Will Prevail 2003 1,000
Source: The Nielsen Company.

*Data does not include sales from Wal-Mart, Sam’s, BJ’s,  or libraries

The media blitz surrounding the book  had an impact on more than book sales. Palin’s Nov. 16 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, gave a boost to the talk show queen’s ratings in several major markets. In some cases, more than doubling the average audience when compared to the prior month.

Cities with Highest Household Viewership Increase

for Sarah Palin Appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show

Market Palin Appearance Prior 4 Wk Avg % Change
Indianapolis 11.4 5.0 128%
Memphis 10.2 5.0 104%
San Diego 10.4 5.2 100%
Columbus, OH 10.0 5.1 96%
Seattle 8.4 4.3 95%
Los Angeles 5.3 2.8 89%
Dayton, OH 5.3 2.9 83%
Raleigh 8.2 4.5 82%
Ft. Meyers 7.8 4.3 81%
Oklahoma 9.4 5.2 81%
Source: The Nielsen Company

Since the 2008 elections, the former vice presidential candidate remained a hot topic in the media and the blogosphere, as buzz inched up around the book’s release. However, even at the height of the book tour, the web chatter did not eclipse the web attention garnered by her premature exit from the post of Alaska governor earlier this summer.


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