The presidential election of 2016 has given a book by Rebecca Solnit originally published in 2004 such a huge boost that print copies are currently out of stock. Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities was originally published by Nation Books, which issued a second edition in 2006. Haymarket Books published a third edition in March 2016 with a new foreword and afterword that sold 6,000 print copies before November 8. Since then, the book has sold 2,800 more copies, with another 5,000 copies on back order. Haymarket has gone back to press for an additional 10,000 copies in paperback and expects them to hit stores by early next week.
In Hope in the Dark, which Solnit wrote while George W. Bush was serving the first of his two terms as U.S. president and waging a highly controversial war on Iraq, she argues that radical activists have a long history of transformative victories, and that often the positive consequences of people’s activism are not immediately perceived. Progressives should not lose hope when confronted with setbacks.
Two days after Donald Trump unexpectedly won the election, Haymarket and Solnit offered readers free downloads of digital copies of Hope in the Dark. In a Facebook post offering the free download, Solnit wrote, “Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things you can know beforehand.” And, she added,“History is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.”
30,500 e-books were downloaded for free after the election. Haymarket also has sold 1,500 digital copies, 670 of them after the election.
Haymarket publicity manager Jim Plank explained that in the aftermath of the election,” the first reaction of many people who didn't vote for Trump was a sense of defeat, despair, fear, and hopelessness.” Hope in the Dark is resonating with such people, he noted, because “the message of the book [is] that hope can find root in an appreciation of our history, that ordinary people can and have changed the world.”
Solnit’s next book with Haymarket, The Mother of All Questions, billed as a sequel to the 2014 bestseller Men Explain Things to Me, will be released in March 2017. It has to date sold 4,100 copies in pre-orders.