Yesterday, we learned that the official Steve Jobs biography sold a staggering 379,000 copies in its first week but how does that compare to the big political memoirs released over the past decade? Measuring the first-week sales of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs, which hit shelves on October 24, against the big political heavyweights who dropped memoirs in the past decade might be a good way of gauging how big of a historical figure Jobs will be after the running month-long frenzy of interest surrounding the late Apple CEO subsides. Charted above are the total sales for the first seven days of release for Bill Clinton's, Sarah Palin's, Hillary Clinton's, and George W. Bush's memoirs, plotted against sales for Jobs's authorized bio. The data was recorded by Nielsen BookScan, which tracks book sales at most major retailers but not Wal-Mart and Sam's Club.
Even though Steve Jobs is in the same league as the political memoirs, reading about the founder and CEO of the world's largest publicly traded company doesn't have quite the appeal of learning about former presidents and presidential and vice presidential candidates. While Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush only slightly edged Steve Jobs by several ten thousand copies, Bill Clinton, who released his memoir in June 2004 as the Iraq War and President Bush were becoming unpopular, sold 60 percent more books than Isaacson did with the Jobs bio. In any case, Jobs is one of the few citizens outside public service who could generate book sales comparable to those of the country's political elite. Maybe he'll be able to stare us down into buying more of his books.