Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century may not be a quick read, but it's flying off the (digital) shelves. What makes a 685-page book on economic history, translated from French, Amazon's bestseller? Well, the reviews have been great; Paul Krugman calls it "truly superb" in the New York Review of Books. And it deals with an issue that speaks to Americans, writes Aimee Picchi at CBS News: income inequality. Piketty argues that the problem is tied to return on capital surpassing the economy's growth rate.
In other words, as Jordan Weissmann writes at Slate, "as economic growth slows in a country, the income generated by wealth balloons compared with income generated by work, and inequality skyrockets." Piketty, Weissmann notes, "has been perhaps the most important thinker on inequality of the past decade or so." His work has been instrumental in documenting the oft-discussed wealthiest 1%. While the book has been a sales success, however, it hasn't generated many Amazon reviews, Picchi points out; that could mean the readers who are buying it aren't actually getting around to reading the giant thing. (Another weird recent bestseller: Mein Kampf.)