Want to Buy a $63 Copy of ‘Mein Kampf’ in the Original German? You’re in Luck.

The German ban on printing <i>Mein Kampf</i> is ending in January, but the book is already in wide circulation around the world.

BERLIN - OCTOBER 13:  The book 'Mein Kampf' (My Struggle) is pictured during a press preview of 'Hitler and the Germans Nation and Crime' (Hitler und die Deutschen Volksgemeinschaft und Verbrechen) at Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) on October 13, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. The exhibition seeks to answer the question of why so many Germans chose to follow Hitler and his fascist ideology and so devotedly despite the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. The exhibition will be open to the public from October 15 until February 6, 2011.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
BERLIN - OCTOBER 13: The book 'Mein Kampf' (My Struggle) is pictured during a press preview of 'Hitler and the Germans Nation and Crime' (Hitler und die Deutschen Volksgemeinschaft und Verbrechen) at Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) on October 13, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. The exhibition seeks to answer the question of why so many Germans chose to follow Hitler and his fascist ideology and so devotedly despite the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. The exhibition will be open to the public from October 15 until February 6, 2011. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
BERLIN - OCTOBER 13: The book 'Mein Kampf' (My Struggle) is pictured during a press preview of 'Hitler and the Germans Nation and Crime' (Hitler und die Deutschen Volksgemeinschaft und Verbrechen) at Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) on October 13, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. The exhibition seeks to answer the question of why so many Germans chose to follow Hitler and his fascist ideology and so devotedly despite the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. The exhibition will be open to the public from October 15 until February 6, 2011. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

In 2005, 80 years after Adolf Hitler published Mein Kampf, the 500-page autobiography hit bestseller lists in an unexpected place: Turkey.

In 2005, 80 years after Adolf Hitler published Mein Kampf, the 500-page autobiography hit bestseller lists in an unexpected place: Turkey.

The book is available in nearly two dozen languages around the world, but has been unusually hard to find within Germany itself. That’s about to change: the book’s current copyright is set to expire in January, which means that German booksellers — for the first time since Adolf Hitler died in 1945 — will be able to carry the book on their shelves.

It won’t come cheap. The new editions, which will cost $63 each and are padded with more than 3,000 annotations, were produced by the Institute for Contemporary History and revealed for the first time in Munich this week.

But with less than 4,000 copies set to go up for sale in January, the re-release, though historic, is unlikely to place the controversial book at the top of Germany’s charts.

And according to the institute’s press release, that’s fine by them: Their version isn’t necessarily intended to reach bestseller status, but instead to “thoroughly deconstruct Hitler’s propaganda in a lasting manner and thus to undermine the still effective symbolic power of the book.”

That should come as a relief to officials in Bavaria, who have over the years tried to extend the reach of the copyright, which under German law, legally expires after 70 years. Bavaria has long barred the reproduction of the book, which was used as propaganda during World War II, citing fears that it could spread Nazi ideology.

The Bavarian copyright hasn’t stopped publishers outside of Germany from continuing to produce the book, and there are between 50 and 60 million copies of the original version, without any of the new caveats, available in at least twenty different translations around the world.

And Turkey isn’t the only place that’s seen the book rise to unexpected popularity since its printing was banned in Germany in 1945.

In the Palestinian territories, the book soared to the No. 6 spot on the bestseller list after it was reprinted by a Lebanese bookseller in Arabic in the 1990s. And in 2009, the BBC documented the book’s inexplicable popularity in the capital of Bangladesh.  At the time, one book-seller speculated that it was highly sought-after “because many people have seen Hitler in films and want to know more about him.”

More recently, the emergence of online e-books helped boost its popularity once again. In 2014, it was the most purchased book in Amazon’s propaganda and political philosophy category, and the third-most popular in the politics section of iBooks, the iTunes e-books provider.

Photo credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Henry Johnson is a fellow at Foreign Policy. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in history and previously wrote for LobeLog. Twitter: @HenryJohnsoon

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