September 9, 2008, 12:00 AM

Amazon gets patriotic with online Election 2008 Store

Consumers can chart political book purchases on a red and blue U.S. map. Books are classified as "Red" for Republican or "Blue" for Democrat based on political leaning suggested by promotional materials and by customer classifications.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Consumers hit with 2008 election fever have a new way to track the presidential campaign beyond pundits and polls. Amazon.com has launched an Election 2008 store that enables shoppers to follow the election in an unconventional way-by the type of political books sold in each state.

The store features a red and blue U.S. map illustrating whether consumers in each state purchase more “Red” (for Republican) or “Blue” (for Democratic) books. Books are classified as red or blue based on the political leaning suggested by promotional materials as well as by customer classifications such as tags, Amazon says. The retailer, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, offered the book map for the 2004 presidential election as well.

"We thought it would be fun to show our customers what their political book purchases would look like on a red and blue map of the country," says Russell Grandinetti, vice president of books for Amazon. "Of course, Amazon customers read widely and often buy books that don`t necessarily fit their own views. We`d be very surprised if our map matches the final Electoral College outcome in November -- it definitely didn`t in 2004 -- but we hope that the store and the map will provide customers with an interesting and lighthearted way to follow the exciting political conversation across the country."

When consumers move a mouse over the map, a meter showing the "Red" and "Blue" percentages for each state pops up. The color with the highest percentage shades the state. Amazon arrives at the percentages by comparing sales of the 250 top-selling "Red" and “Blue” books during the previous 60 days. The totals are updated each day, Amazon says. Visitors also can see versions of the red and blue map in two-month increments throughout the 2004 election as well as the 2008 election to date.

Other election store features include a sampling of local political book favorites for each state, an Obama/McCain meter comparing the sales of books written by the two presidential candidates, and a Biden/Palin meter comparing the sales of the most popular books about the vice presidential nominees.

Shoppers at the store also can find books recommended by senators John McCain and Barack Obama, bestseller lists of political books and booklists organized around top issues. They can share election feedback via the store’s political discussion board and listen to author interviews with such political figures as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

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