The conservative book business has seen better days. Ten years ago, the genre was a major source of intellectual energy on the right, and the site of a publishing boom, with conservative imprints popping up at industry giants like Random House and Penguin. But after a decade of disruption, uneven sales, and fierce competition, many leading figures in the conservative literati fear the market has devolved into an echo of cable news, where an overcrowded field of preachers feverishly contends for the attention of the same choir.
Official government documents may not have topped most holiday wish lists in the past, but several such reports found their ways under Christmas trees with increasing frequency the last several years. “The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward—A New Approach” hit bookshelves in early December 2006 and, like a couple of its recent predecessors, has earned overwhelming success. Already in its third printing at the time of this story, the book’s release was made all the more remarkable by the circumstances surrounding its publication: a 24-day turnaround time. Government reports have, on occasion, sounded blips on literary radar screens in the past—perhaps most