Not too surprisingly (and thankfully), Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded holds spot #2 on the NYT‘s list of non-fiction bestsellers. A bit more shocking is that Van Jones’ book “The Green Collar Economy” landed the #12 spot.
“The Green Collar Economy” received a major online push. Green for All, Jones’ organization founded to explore green solutions to poverty, launched a massive, online networking effort to spread the word about the book. They turned to e-mail lists, various forms of online promotion (videos, for example), and the blogosphere. Once the bloggers caught wind of the story, online sales skyrocketed. Next stop – NYT bestsellers.
At first, that sort of success seemed a long shot.
Jones is a first-time author and doesn’t have a whole lot of publicity outside of his choir (environmentalists and some community development advocates). Plus, the book’s marketing budget was … well, it wasn’t.
But the achievement is equally huge for the progressive and environmental communities. In my opinion, it is those of us that advocate for a clean energy economy who should be celebrating the most.
Naturally, The Huffington Post has taken the opportunity to bask in the wonders of the blogosphere’s astonishing influence. But the post doesn’t mention that Jones is also the first African-American to make the bestsellers list with a book about the environment (this being something Jones is very conscious of).
That in itself is a statement. What it’s going to take to transition our economy to one that is no longer carbon-intensive is busting the myths of what it means to be an environmentalist (it’s not necessarily for the elite, and it shouldn’t see class or race). Van Jones is an inspirational leader with a powerful message about mobilizing the masses toward a green revolution.
In a 2007 article, he envisioned:
Imagine a coalition that unites the best of labor, business, racial justice activists, environmentalists, intellectuals, students and more. That combination would rival the last century’s New Deal and New Right coalitions.
The blogosphere is a potent tool these days, no doubt. But there’s real substance to Jones’ message, and the bloggers’ success in catapulting the book to the bestseller list is evidence that a 21st century coalition could be emerging, with a force, a purpose, a shape, and roots unlike anything history has seen.
– Kari M.