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Hitler's Mein Kampf rises in the eBook ratings

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In 1925 and 1926, a two volume book was published which changed the course of history. Adolf Hitler’s manifesto "Mein Kampf," outlined his political ideology and his plans for a new Germany. The books grew in popularity with Hitler’s climb to power and lay the groundwork for his agenda, eventually selling more than ten million copies, making Hitler very wealthy. Due to the heinous nature of Hitler’s crimes, the book had been out of print and essentially blacklisted from sale in the United States for the better part of seventy years.

Now, due to the internet, the book has been made readily available at a low price on both Amazon (currently $2.51) and iTunes ($2.99). It has been downloaded over 100,000 times for free from the non-profit Internet Archive. The e-book version on sale at Amazon has reached the top of the “Propaganda and Political Psychology” chart. It has a four star average rating on the site. There are 427 reviews of the book at Amazon, including (somewhat unbelievably) 193 five star reviews for a book that was been described by Hitler’s ally, Italian facist dictator Benito Mussolini as "a boring tome that I have never been able to read" and remarked that Hitler's beliefs, as expressed in the book, were "little more than commonplace clichés."

The physical book has been out of print in Germany since 1945. The rights to the book are held by Bavaria, Hitler’s last official place of residence. In cooperation with Germany, Bavaria has withheld publication rights. Bavaria’s copyright expires at the end of 2015.

The English and US rights to the books were sold prior to Hitler’s death, the English and US copyright holders are permitted to sell the books. According to Vocativ, Houghton Mifflin (holder of the English translation copyright), hasn’t published a softcover of "Mein Kampf" since 1998, and U.S. sales declined in the mid-1990s, when retailers moved an estimated 15,000 annual print copies.

It’s fascinating how the privacy of eReaders has opened the door to the resurgence of interest in “Mein Kampf.” It allows a reader to download items and read in public things they wouldn’t necessarily want to be seen reading in public.

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