The Trump book industry remains incredibly lucrative — perhaps, even, at the expense of the rest of book publishing.
This year, The New York Times‘ hardcover nonfiction best-seller list has been topped exclusively by books centering on President Donald Trump. At the top of the list this week is Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World, in which former Hillary Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri reflects on her campaign’s loss and prescribes a new model of leadership for the Trump era. The three weeks before that, it was Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s Russian Roulette, extensively exploring Trump’s ties to all things Russia. And before that, of course, was the juggernaut Fire & Fury, Michael Wolff’s gossipy White House tell-all which spent a staggering 10 weeks in the No. 1 spot.
It is firmly expected that James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty, the memoir in which the former FBI director slams the president as “unethical” and “untethered to truth,” will overtake Palmieri for the top position in its first week of eligibility. The book has already created quite a stir and received thousands of pre-orders. (Read our review.)
“Trump’s impact on book sales is multidimensional,” CNN’s Brian Stelter reported. “While he is drawing extra attention to certain books, agents and publishing executives worry that he is also hurting sales of nonpolitical titles.”
Several sources in publishing have indicated the same to EW: that the demand for juicy political titles is insatiable — while, quite clearly, less so for other genres. In nonfiction alone, this year we’ve had a breakout memoir in Tara Westover’s Educated; an acclaimed true crime read with a tragic backstory and a celebrity connection in Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark; and a pop-science hit in Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. Yet none has risen higher than the No. 2 or No. 3 spots on the list, unable to blast through the Trump wall.
Look even to the children’s book field: John Oliver’s surprise announcement of A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, rivaling the vice president’s picture book about his pet rabbit, has been a huge success due to its particular anti-Mike Pence appeal.
Back in nonfiction, Fire and Fury‘s publisher reports that more than 2 million copies of the book have been sold. It remains to be seen whether Comey’s memoir, released Tuesday, can sell even more.