On April 2, Zvezda TV and Sputnik published the false claim that Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” is more popular in Latvia than Harry Potter, the fictional school child who is the main character of a popular series of books and movies. Sputnik labeled the story “Viral.”
Zvezda based its conclusion solely on the rankings of a single Latvian website, iBook, referencing a widget in the left bottom corner of that website reading: “The Most Current Books in 7 Days.”
The Russian government news agency Sputnik also cited iBook as the source of its own list of Latvia’s“top four books,” which put Hitler’s Mein Kampf near the top and ahead of Harry Potter. Sputnik went on to point out, somewhat incongruously, that a yearly march in Riga commemorating World Two-era Latvian Nazi SS members has been condemned internationally.
iBook is a small online platform for individuals to sell and exchange their used books. The website describes itself as a “portal for book exchanges, sales and purchases.”
Polyraph.info ran the site through SimilarWeb, a tool for measuring site traffic, and found that iBook ranks 338th in Latvia in terms of popularity, and 219,504th in the world. It is Latvia’s 149th most popular shopping site. Therefore, it is not even close to the top in any category.
“Alexa,” the Amazon-owned web tool, ranks ibook’s Web traffic even lower – 878th in Latvia and 407,609th in the world. 6.6% of the sites recent traffic came from Russia -- possibly due to the fact that TV Zvezda linked to the site in its story.
The four copies of “Mein Kampf” featured on the website are used 1995 editions of Hitler’s book, and are being sold by individual users.
According to Latvian readers on “Google Reads,” while travel guides and books on Latvian cuisine tend to be best sellers in Latvia, the top selling book in the country is Epifānijas (Epiphanies), a collection by the poet Imants Ziedonis.
“Words Without Borders,” a non-profit organization that promotes global literature, says the 2017 grand prize at the Annual Latvian Literature Award went to Jana Egle’s short story collection “Light.”
The Web site “Latvian Literature,” created by Baltic writers and publishers, focuses on Latvian national literature and Web sites that sell it. Neither iBook, not the “Mein Kampf” are not represented.