Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 soar following PRISM US privacy revelations

The National Security Administration surveillance scandal has prompted a 3,000% surge in purchases of the 1948 dystopian novel

Revelations last week that the US goverment has the ability to access records of individual smartphone and internet activity through their Prism scheme has become the talk of the international media, prompting more than a few allusions to George Orwell’s political forecast 1984. 

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So perhaps it’s no surprise that his classic dystopian novel has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, with sales on internet retailer Amazon soaring by 3,000% since last week. The 1949 work profiling the machinations of an oppressive future government jumped from 6,750 to become the 194th best-selling book in just 24 hours on Tuesday after Orwell’s seminal work was cited in a number of publications. 

In the wake of the National Security Administration surveillance scandal, Obama even referenced Orwell’s controlling political figurehead, Big Brother, in a speech defending his own government’s actions: “In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details, then I think we’ve struck the right balance.”

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The centenary edition of 1984 is currently number 17 on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers list (tracking the biggest sales boosts over a 24 hour period), but made it as high as the top five yesterday (11 June), with his 1945 novel Animal Farm also enjoying a surge in popularity.