Who says the book business is dying?
Simon & Schuster announced Tuesday that Fear, Bob Woodward’s blockbuster exposé of the day-to-day dysfunction in the Trump Administration, has sold more copies in its first week than any book in the publisher’s storied history. You read that correctly: With 1.1 million Fear units ordered, it’s the biggest first-seven-days success that Simon & Schuster has ever seen. Fear is already in its 10th reprint. (It was published on Sept. 11.)
The news is particularly remarkable given that Fear is only the latest book revealing the inner-workings of the Trump White House to grab headlines. Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury started the trend at the beginning of the year, and sold 500,000 copies within two weeks. James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty fared even better, topping 300,000 sales in its first week. And by comparison, Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s memoir Unhinged sold a paltry 34,000 units over those initial seven days. But all were no. 1 New York Times best-sellers, an indication of just how mammoth Fear‘s numbers are right now.
Fear, like Fire and Fury, features hundreds of interviews with insiders and firsthand witnesses to what’s gone on inside of the Trump bubble. But the book has been met with even more interest and coverage because, unlike Michael Wolff’s gossipy and unreliable reputation, Woodward is a distinguished, highly respected journalist with a proven track record when it comes to getting to the truth about U.S. presidents. In the book, Woodward claims Defense Secretary Jim Matthis described Trump as having the understanding of “a fifth or sixth-grader”; that chief of staff John Kelly called the president “an idiot”; and that Trump refers to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a “traitor” and a “dumb Southerner.”
The overall portrait Woodward paints is one of widespread, alarming dysfunction in which staffers ignore Trump’s bluster and extremism for the preservation of the country’s order. (Perhaps the most publicized example: In April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. “Let’s f—ing kill him!” Trump is quoted as saying. “Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f—ing lot of them.” Mattis, per Woodward, then told a senior aide, “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”)
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the president look bad.” Kelly issued a statement denying that he “ever called the President an idiot.”
Of course, Fear isn’t ending the trend. Several books are still coming down the pike, including Stormy Daniels’ memoir, which reportedly includes a rather grotesque description of the president’s anatomy, and a newly-announced tell-all from Andrew McCabe, the Deputy FBI Director who Trump controversially fired.
Safe to say, at least, that they won’t be beating out these numbers.
This headline has been updated to reflect that the amount of first-week copies sold was the most in Simon & Schuster’s history, not publishing at large.