Michael Wolff’s US publisher says it has orders for more than one million hardcover copies of Fire and Fury, with “hundreds of thousands of e-books” already sold.
The figures were revealed at the same time as the chief executive of Macmillan, John Sargent, wrote a letter to staff explaining the company had an obligation to release the title “for all authors and all their books, now and in the future”, despite Trump’s threat of legal action.
“This is an underlying principle of our democracy,” he wrote to staff on Monday (8th January), in a letter published on Twitter. “We cannot stand silent. We will not allow any president to achieve by intimidation what our Constitution precludes him or her from achieving in court.”
He continued: “We need to respond strongly for Michael Wolff and his book, but also for all authors and all their books, now and in the future. And as citizens we must demand that President Trump understand and abide by the First Amendment of our Constitution.”
Speaking in to the Wall Street Journal, Sargent confirmed the publisher had “never seen a book sell at this rate”. It is currently reprinting “insider’s account”, of how Trump operates in the White House, “as quickly as it can”, he said, with a million copies in the pipeline to meet one million orders, after an initial print run of 150,000 copies. With Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble selling out of their copies soon after it was released four days early on Friday (5th January), customers will have turned to digital to read the book, and Sargant told the WSJ the title had sold “hundreds of thousands of e-books, and in the low six figures for audiobooks.” In the UK, publisher Little, Brown has so far declined to reveal the number of print and digital orders for Fire and Fury.
In his letter to staff, Sargent explained the publisher’s rationale for releasing the title four days earlier than originally planned after Trump tried to have the book banned.
“Our response is firm, as it has to be. I am writing you today to explain why this is a matter of great importance," he said. "It is about much more than Fire and Fury. The president is free to call news “fake” and to blast the media. That goes against convention, but it is not unconstitutional. But a demand to cease and desist publication a clear effort by the president of the United States to intimidate a publisher into halting publication of an important book on the workings of the government is an attempt to achieve what is called prior restraint. That is something that no American court would order as it is flagrantly unconstitutional.”
Little, Brown, Fire and Fury’s UK publisher, also decided to release the title four days early, although printed stock is only due to hit shelves of most bookshops today (9th January). Waterstones yesterday told The Bookseller it sold out of all of its early copies over the weekend, with Kate Skipper, buying director for the chain, saying “interest has far from peaked” and “unsurprisingly we couldn’t keep up with demand and ran out nearly everywhere”.
Public interest in the title soared after the Guardian accessed an early leaked copy from a bookseller in New England last Wednesday (3rd January) and published an explosive article based on its contents, followed by other press. Trump sought to have it banned by issuing a cease and desist letter to author Wolff and US publisher Henry Holt and Company on Thursday (4th January) sparking even further attention.
On Friday (5th January) Wolff defended his work on US national television, saying he is "absolutely in every way comfortable" with "everything" reported in the book, following the White House attacks on its credibility. The US president has continued to tweet about it, calling the book “phony” as well as “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist” on the social media platform Twitter.