Sean Spicer’s book “The Briefing” is out this week and early reviews haven’t been kind. The Guardian said “it rings like an audition for a talkshow,” the Washington Post called it “a bumbling effort at gaslighting Americans into doubting what they have seen with their own eyes,” and the Wall Street Journal said it’s “littered with inaccuracies.”
Despite a plug by Donald Trump himself, the memoir by the former White House press secretary hasn’t cracked Amazon’s Top 100 list. But in one area, Spicer’s book has proved very popular: Russia studies.
Spicer’s account of his short stint with the Trump administration is a best seller online in Amazon’s “Russian & Former Soviet Union Politics” category. The physical version of the book topped the list this morning, while the digital version was number three.
Of course, best seller lists are flawed. They can be biased, their criteria can be murky, and they can be “hacked” by authors and trolls alike. Amazon’s rankings have also been criticized for moving too fast; they are updated hourly, instead of weekly or monthly, which makes it easier to become a “best-selling” author—if only for an hour.
But Spicer’s book is not the only book about Trump that is listed as a relevant bestseller on Russian politics. At time of writing, the entire category was dominated by books about the Trump era, with Malcolm Nance’s “The Plot to Destroy Democracy”, Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case Against Impeaching Trump” and Jerome Corsi’s “Killing the Deep State” all in the top 10.
So how did all these books about Trump get into the Russia category? According to Amazon, publishers set the category and search keywords for their books.
Update July 26: This story has been updated to clarify how book categories are selected.