WASHINGTON -- The author of "50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America" says a recent online attack by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin may have helped propel his book sales on Amazon.com's "Best-Sellers List."
Michael Huttner, founder of grassroots organizing group Progress Now, co-wrote the 236-page community action handbook with Jason Salzman, after they kept hearing people in the progressive community ask "What can we do now?" following President Obama's inauguration last January.
Huttner told Raw Story the book is "a small contribution" to "ultimately helping people all across the country and in every community to have practical ways they can change their community, their state, the country and maybe even the world."
Malkin notes Huttner's day job as head of Progress Now, which she describes as "a Democrat group of non-profit satellites funded with start-up money from billionaire George Soros and the Democracy Alliance — whose board members include SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger and ACORN embezzlement cover-upper Drummond Pike." The non-profit status of groups like the Progress Now affiliates, despite links to the Democratic Party, have enraged many conservatives.
On August 31st, before Huttner's book had been released, Malkin called it "a bid to dislodge conservative authors" that sought to energize "every nutroots activist" and "Obama cultists."
Huttner says the week following Malkin's attack, his book jumped to number 28 on Amazon's best-sellers list. It now sits at # 32, 097 on the best-sellers list, but ranks #23 on the Human Rights best-sellers list and #24 on the leadership best-sellers list.
"She attacked us very personally and quite frankly it has brought some attention to the book," Huttner told Raw Story. "If you look at our online reviews, you'll see two types of ratings--5 star ratings from a bunch of different folks and 1 star ratings that often happened the day after she posted her attack. Some of the people even acknowledge they haven't read the book."
He also dismisses her criticism of him as a "Soros-tied author" and says Progress Now is "honored to have the support" of Soros' Open Society Institute, "which continues to help so many important causes throughout the country and around the world."
Partisan book wars are nothing new. In 2003, the Boston Globe noted that five liberal books made The New York Times's top 15 hard-cover nonfiction bestsellers, "mounting what some sales specialists see as a left-wing assault on the conservatives' decade-long hold on popular culture."
The paper reported that book publishing, talk radio and opinion mags had largely been "dominated by right-wing political titles, including polemics by the leading radio and television pundits. The airwaves, bestseller lists, and the opinion press were widely viewed as links in a network that helped prompt investigations of President Clinton and assisted the elections of a Republican House, Senate, and presidency."
Huttner told Raw Story that although his book is intended for a liberal audience, it really could be used by anybody seeking to learn how to use new media like Facebook, YouTube and cell phones to advocate for any cause.
"To be quite frank, almost every one of the actions in there is a practical strategy and tactics, and quite frankly as much as I'd like to say they are all progressive , they are really more civic engagement and successful political organizing tactics that we've had work in Colorado and elsewhere," Huttner told Raw Story. "The ultimate goal is getting people engaged in the conversation. This is a practical handbook on how people can create change and empower themselves."
Malkin did not respond to Raw Story's request for comment.