The Naked Communist

The Naked Communist by W. Cleon Skousen was originally published in 1958 during the height of the cold war. It was so popular in that era that at one point it was selling more than 1,000 copies a day with press runs of 50,000 copies at a time. National radio commentator Paul Harvey endorsed it, national organizations and elected government officials endorsed it, and Look Magazine observed that the book was never formally reviewed by the top three reviewers of the day, yet was outselling other “best sellers” by the thousands.
Revitalizing an older book for the new generation is a big challenge, even an uphill battle that sometimes can take a few years. But with the right approach an author can reap amazing results with relatively little input. The biggest challenge is how to address the changing tastes of the market, from what drew readers of past years to what draws readers of today.

The book was still selling, mostly to older Americans still concerned about Communism. Even so, it was moving only a few copies a month. The information was relevant to current events around the globe, but it had not been updated to sync with changing times. Its full potential was not being realized.
Skousen’s son, author Paul Skousen, had been stewing over this problem for some time and finally approached Izzard Ink. Younger Skousen brought two new chapters he felt were needed to put the book in a modern context. One addition included background information on the creation of The Naked Communist, while the other chapter updated the 45 communist goals of record, illustrating that 44 of the 45 have been achieved.

Our Role

Update content and chapter headings

Redesign layout for readability

Redesign cover for a more modern look

Update Endorsements/Reviews

Republishing/Distribution

Method

A new interior layout was designed to increase the book’s legibility and ensure an easy experience for modern readers. A new professional cover was ordered, something that would more effectively deliver the book’s message. A subtitle was added, “Exposing Communism and Restoring Freedom,” to better tap into the passion and concerns of the targeted market.
The new layout, index, and updated chapter headings reduced the page count, thus saving on production costs. The book was given a whole new look, a modern look. Mark Deakins, who has done voice work for Porsche and many other award-winning audiobooks, recorded the audiobook version, and the book was ready to go.
Insights
Along with expanding the book’s distribution network, Izzard also collected reviews and endorsements from over the years that would resonate with modern readers. These included praise from former President Ronald Reagan and current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, who mentioned it during his presidential campaign.
By July of 2014, The Naked Communist was being discussed on national TV, triggering an increase in sales that it hadn’t experienced for decades. Exposure in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on Fox News ensured the book earned a fresh national profile. Praise from radio and television commentators introduced the book to a whole new audience who saw it as something brand new that deserved their attention. The endorsements forged the link between past and present audiences.
From here the book caught the attention of international publishers, and The Naked Communist was translated into three languages within 24 months of its new release.

Results

Republishing of the book involved almost $30,000 in investment over a four-year period.

The Naked Communist ultimately made it into the top 50 lists of both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

“My husband wrote several dozen books including The Naked Communist and The Naked Capitalist. We were so happy when some of them became best sellers. I was told that at last count these two books had sold more than three million copies combined. I’m so pleased with the fresh new look and such surprising results that have come from that.” 
—Jewel Skousen, author’s wife

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