A quick scroll through Amazon’s best selling books of 2020 reflects a year of liberal reckoning and universal uncertainty. Barack Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land, is number one, followed by Donald Trump’s niece’s tell-all, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man. The top 20 also includes White Fragility, How To Be Anti-Racist, and Michelle Obama’s memoir. But while the majority of Amazon shoppers were reading about systemic oppression and former first families, others were delving into COVID conspiracies.
Yesterday, Buzzfeed News reported on Amazon’s algorithm pushing buyers down a rabbit hole of Coronavirus conspiracy theories. A team of researchers at the University of Amsterdam identified 20 COVID conspiracy titles that expressed doubts about the virus, sold across Amazon’s 19 international stores. The researchers found that Amazon’s search algorithms and user reviews helped the books thrive.
The most-recommended conspiracy book, according to the researchers, is COVID Operation: What Happened, Why It Happened, and What's Next. Co-authored by a naturopath named Pamela Popper, the text claims COVID-19 is a “hoax” perpetrated “by a wide network of enemies of the people who have managed to disguise themselves as public servants, health professionals, and founders and heads of global non-profits.”
Looking beyond the chart-topping Twilight books, Obama memoirs, and RBG calendars, our data shows numerous COVID conspiracy titles littered across Amazon's best sellers lists. Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates has earned an average best seller ranking of 17.5 overall and 22 in the books category over the last year. At the time of writing, Unreported Truths Part 1 is #11 in the Kindle Store's "Communicable Diseases" category. Part 2 is #1 in Amazon's "One-Hour Science & Math Short Reads." There are four total installations in the series, each revealing a different untold truth, I presume.
Part 1’s description reads, “Former New York Times reporter and prominent lockdown critic Alex Berenson provides a counterweight to media hysteria about coronavirus in this series of short booklets answering crucial questions about COVID.”
“They don’t want you to read this,” says one reviewer. “He simply states the facts and cites the research that the corporate media willingly ignored in order to protect their agenda. Big shout out to Elon Musk!”
“Nice to have a book with FACTS via Fear Mongering,” another writes. “It’s key to know them to have an understanding of what is going on!”
Plague: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases, which was originally published back in 2014, earned an average best seller ranking of 28 during the same time period. The book, which has been criticized for its dangerous medical misinformation and anti-vaccine propaganda, currently ranks #7 in Amazon's "Forensic Medicine" category.
Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science sat at an average overall ranking of 11.5 for six days. The book is now a #1 Amazon best seller in the e-commerce giant’s “AIDS” category. Fauci: The Bernie Madoff of Science and the HIV Ponzi Scheme that Concealed the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic sits at #1 in “AIDS & HIV.”
There are several other COVID conspiracy texts climbing the best seller lists, including The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing The Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal, which is #1 under “Vaccines.” The book, which comes out next month, was written by Dr. Joseph Mercola and Ronnie Cummins with a forward by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
I found myself in a rabbit hole of my own, clicking from one "COVID is a hoax" paperback to the next, following Amazon’s “related products” and “frequently bought together" items. My homepage is now filled with "recommended" books like Corona False Alarm? and I Do Not Consent: My Fight Against Medical Cancel Culture.
The Business of Business has reached out to Amazon for comment and will update if we get a response.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.