For the first time in a decade, American readers care about politics

Tear it up.
Tear it up.
Image: Reuters/Phil Noble
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Kindly step aside, Harry. Please back up, Mr. Grey. In 2018, Donald Trump is the main character that Americans want to read about.

Over the last few years, Trump has provided ample fodder for the US book scene. As seen through book releases and sales, the country is still reeling from (or in many cases, reveling in) his victory. Seemingly every week, publishers serve up new books about the US president: explaining his rise, extolling his virtues, speculating about his ties to Russia, analyzing his family and upbringing, and straight-up trolling him. Trump, more than any other real-life man in recent years, is changing the landscape of books. And readers can’t get enough.

Fear: Trump in the White House, by journalist Bob Woodward, is already the sixth bestselling book on Amazon for all of 2018, at time of writing. And it isn’t even out yet.

In 2018 so far, four of the 10 bestselling books on Amazon are about contemporary politics (including a picture-book parody about vice president Mike Pence and his stance on gay marriage).

This week, the top 25 nonfiction adult hardcover books in the US (according to NPD BookScan, which covers about 85% of trade print book sales) have a higher number of books about contemporary politics than the same week going all the way back to 2012.

In 2018, Fear joins the following books in the Amazon top 10:

  • Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, which became a smash-hit after Trump himself tried to shut it down
  • Last Week Tonight’s A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, a parody about the Pence family’s pet bunny
  • James Comey’s Loyalty, a memoir by the former FBI director about being abruptly fired by Trump

In the last decade, 2009 was the year with close to as many political books. That year, the top 10 included Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, a memoir about her upbringing and political career, and Mark R. Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny, which argues for a Constitution-based conservatism.

It’s not typical to see a single year of Amazon bestseller lists dominated by one topic or type of book, but when it does happen, it’s usually fiction. In 2012, four of the 10 bestselling books were Fifty Shades of Grey books, and another three were from The Hunger Games series. In 2010, three were Stieg Larsson books, and in 2008, four were from the Twilight series. In 2015, three of the bestsellers were adult coloring books.