Book publishers in the United States are making the most of Americans’ fascination with President Donald Trump, selling huge numbers of books on him.
“Fire and Fury,” “A Higher Loyalty,” “Fear”: three books about Trump presidency have each sold more than a million copies in the United States, a record of some sorts.
The great majority of successful books on politics have been written by politicians themselves — or by ghostwriters working with them.
Barack Obama set the standard in the genre, selling a combined 4.6 million copies of his autobiographical books “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”
In their time, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Hillary Clinton and even Sarah Palin all topped the best-seller lists at least for a few weeks, while not reaching Obama’s lofty level.
And in 1976, Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward sold 630,000 copies of his “The Final Days,” chronicling the dramatic unwinding of the Nixon presidency.
After that, however, there have been no chart-toppers about a president.
But in just nine months, “Fire and Fury” by journalist and author Michael Wolff, “A Higher Loyalty” by former FBI chief James Comey, and Woodward’s “Fear” have sold a combined total of more than five million copies, according to numbers reviewed by AFP.
“I’m not surprised,” said David Corn, co-author of “Russian Roulette,” a book about Russian interference in the American presidential campaign.
“There is deep desire on the part of many Americans for an understanding of what happened in this country” during the 2016 presidential campaign, he said, and also of “what’s going on now within the Trump White House.”
In the past, books about a presidency were generally published only after it was over, leaving sources freer to talk and allowing greater historical perspective.
But, “as ever, Trump has sped everything up,” Jon Meacham, the author of several best-selling political and historical books, told MSNBC. “It’s almost as if we had a webcam” providing live coverage of events inside the White House.
Trump himself has, however unintentionally, helped promote these books — all of which paint an apocalyptic picture of his administration — by firing off highly critical Twitter messages about them.
“The Woodward book is a Joke,” he tweeted shortly before “Fear” was published, “just another assault against me.”
“I guess people want to see how bad it really is” in the White House, said Marianne Elliott, who is on a long waiting list at the New York public library to read “Fear.”
Many opposition Democrats, though repelled by Trump, his politics and his blustering personality, have been eager to read anything they can find about him.
“They want more bad information, to make you feel better because you know he’s terrible,” Elliott said. “It’s comforting.”