Trump’s clumsy attempt to silence a book made it a bestseller instead

Image: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
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US president Donald Trump is fanning a countrywide fire.

Fire and Fury, a book by Michael Wolff that purports to give a firsthand account of Trump’s first year as president, came out today. The controversial book, from Macmillan’s Henry Holt imprint, has been condemned by the president as “full of lies” and by his press office as “complete fantasy.” Yesterday Trump’s lawyer sent Wolff and his publisher a cease and desist order to stop the release of the book. Despite—indeed, perhaps because of—Trump’s efforts to undermine Fire and Fury, the book is on course to be a bonafide bestseller.

Wolff’s book has been resting comfortably at the number one spot on Amazon’s overall bestselling books list yesterday and today. Fire and Fury was scheduled for release on Jan. 9, but after excerpts from and articles about the book came out this week, the publisher announced yesterday it would be move up the release to today at 9am US eastern time.

Despite the somewhat arbitrary schedule (books are usually released on dates, not at specific times), last night Kramerbooks, in Washington, DC, released the title at midnight. The store, which is normally open past midnight, sold out its 75 copies within 25 minutes. “The equivalent I can think of would be Harry Potter,” says the store’s general manager, Lynn Schwartz, referring to midnight release parties for the children’s fantasy series.

Henry Holt declined to give sales numbers for the book so far, but says there have been several print runs. The Guardian reports that 250,000 copies of Fire and Fury had been shipped as of this morning, which is certainly no Harry Potter, but is undoubtedly a success for a book in its category. Simon & Schuster said last year that its massive release for Hillary Clinton’s What Happened sold about 300,000 copies in the first week.

In publishing, Trump’s denunciation may prove even more lucrative than an endorsement from the Midas of book sales, US talk show host, Oprah Winfrey. Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, a fire hot novel from 2016, released early after it was chosen for Oprah’s book club, sold about 17,500 print copies in its first week in August that year.