Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Snagging an idea from Lawrence Cunningham's post on Contracts casebooks, I decided to check out the Amazon sales of leading property textbooks. According to Amazon, these are the 10 most popular Property books (and their rank in total Amazon book sales - that includes all books sold on the site):
1. Dukeminier, Krier, Alexander, Schill (4,880)
2. Merrill & Smith (6,295)
3. Singer (40,018)
4. Sprankling & Coletta (120,134)
5. Kurtz & Hovenkamp (179,568)
6. Nelson, Stoebuck, Whitman (192,986)
7. Donahue, Kauper, Martin (200,028)
8. Cribbet, Findley, Smith (268,434)
9. Rabin, Kwall, Kwall (275,789)
10. Casner, Leach, French (298,704)
A found a few things here pretty surprising. First, I'm a little shocked that the Merrill & Smith has become so popular. I don't mean to imply that it's not a good or erudite text - it most certainly is. However, I would have guessed that its deeply theoretical bent would have curtailed its spread beyond the very top schools. Second, the success of both the Merrill & Smith (first published in 2007) and the Sprankling & Coletta (first published in 2009) seems to indicate that there's a hunger for new voices in the property textbook market.
I'll also use this post to highlight the debate between Cunningham and Bainbridge over what makes a "good" textbook. Bainbridge argues that the success of his Corporations textbook comes from it's exhaustive teacher's manuel and the textbook's "lean and mean" take on the subject. Cunningham, in contrast, likes a book packed with "notes, questions and comments, scholarly excerpts, problems, statutory and restatement selections, interdisciplinary perspectives and more." I think I side with Bainbridge on these issues - I'm not sure students get much out of the extras and I think that stuff works to drive up the price of textbooks. Thoughts on any of this?
UPDATE: Looking at the data again, I think this list almost certainly undersells the popularity of the Dukeminier casebook. As the post indicates, the newest edition (7th) is the number one book in the field. However, I overlooked that the 6th addition would currently rank as the fourth most sold Property textbook. Combining the 6th and 7th addition sales would likely show that Dukeminier leads the field by a much wider gap than the post indicates.
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