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From Amazon, books in red and blue

By Amy Martinez

The Seattle Times SEATTLE| has found a way to capitalize on one of the most interesting presidential elections in U.S. history.

The Seattle-based retailer introduced an interactive map of the U.S. showing which states are ``red'' or ``blue'' based on their online book purchases.

Although it's not meant to predict the next president, it suggests that the Right's slant on the Obama-McCain matchup is more widely read than the Left's.

For now, 36 states are pink or red. Six are blue. And eight, including Washington and Oregon, are purple, meaning residents are virtually split in their political book purchases between Republican and Democratic viewpoints.

The map, available at, and updated daily, is based on sales of books with a political perspective, as identified in promotional material and customer classifications.

To determine whether a state is red or blue, Amazon compares sales of the 250 top-selling Republican-leaning books over the past 60 days with those of the 250 top-selling Democratic-leaning books during the same period.

Republicans can take heart that hotly contested Ohio and Florida, so-called swing states in the coming election, favor ``red'' books like Jerome Corsi's ``The Obama Nation'' over ``blue'' books like Gan Golan's parody ``Goodnight Bush.''

But no need for Democrats to despair: Sales of books written by Barack Obama beat John McCain's, 77 percent to 23 percent, according to an Amazon meter updated hourly.

As for Amazon, it's independent.

``We're not taking sides in this,'' says senior books editor Tom Nissley. ``We just want to show people what's happening.''