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Hillary Clinton's book sales barely edging out Ben Carson's

BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Copies of the German translation of the book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) by Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, stand on display at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Adam Berry, Getty Images

It's not 2016 yet, but the early frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and one favorite being ardently recruited by Republicans are already contending for the top spot - on the bookshelf.

Despite the hubbub surrounding the release last month of Hillary Clinton's memoir "Hard Choices," new data shows it's barely edging out Ben Carson's "One Nation" in book sales. Nielsen Bookscan figures provided to CBS News for the week ending July 6 show the former secretary of state clocking in at 177,000 copies sold; Carson has sold 162,000 copies.

"One Nation," released May 20, has been on the market about three weeks longer than Clinton's chronicle. But considering the discrepancy in name brand as well as the flourish and fanfare that led Clinton's ultimately tumultuous book tour out of the gate, the marginal sales gap is striking.

Simon & Schuster reportedly shelled out a $14 million advance for Clinton's account of her time at the State Department, which critics have largely written off as safe and "stodgy."

The figures are good news for Carson, the neurosurgeon credited as the first person to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head.

Carson saw his star rise in 2013, when he openly lashed out against President Obama while standing several feet away from him. Ever since, conservatives starved for diversity have been building the case for the African-American doctor as a grassroots option for a 2016 White House bid, going so far as to mount a "Draft Ben Carson" movement.

As for Clinton, who's been unsuccessfully fending off speculation that her book tour is merely a soft rollout for her own anticipated presidential run, the relatively sluggish sales could be an indicator that she's not quite the stimulating public figure she'll need to be if she expects to win the Oval Office.

Another, somewhat ironic, red flag: On Friday, "Hard Choices" was bumped from first to second place on the New York Times bestseller list by Edward Klein's "Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. the Obamas," a garish if sensational telling of the alleged tensions between Bill and Hillary Clinton and the current first family.

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    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.