Little, Brown said the response to the explosive exposé of Donald Trump's presidency has been "extraordinary", with the publisher fulfilling orders of 330,000 print copies and with "tens of thousands" of e-books already sold.
Tim Whiting, the book's UK editor, said the Little, Brown team had been working "at pace" since it brought the publication date forward to last Friday (5th January), with the orders for Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury "exceptionally high" across all editions. The book will not chart on Nielsen BookScan until next Tuesday, with most UK shops only getting stock this week.
"This is an important book that we’re all proud to be publishing, and we’re looking forward to seeing the TCM figures this time next week," Whiting told The Bookseller. "We currently have 330,000 copies out with customers in home and export and have also sold tens of thousands of e-books and audiobooks over the past few days."
He added: "The response to Fire and Fury has been extraordinary. The team here at Little, Brown has been working at pace since we brought the publication date forward to match the US and we’ve received an exceptionally high number of orders across all our editions."
The book's US publisher Macmillan has revealed its orders for the book have topped one million copies, while its e-book sales are in the "hundreds of thousands".
The controversial title is hitting most UK bookshop shelves today (10th January) and tomorrow (11th January). Waterstones Piccadilly sold out of the early copies it received over the weekend, and as more trickled through yesterday, the chain said it sold 100 copies in the first 30 minutes of trade.
Waterstones spokesperson Sandra Taylor said yesterday: "Anticipation amongst our customers is palpable and the huge pile of books is already going down very fast. Well over 100 copies were sold in the first 30 minutes of the book being on the shop floor and I wouldn’t be surprised if it all sells out before the end of the day.”
Fire and Fury goes on sale at Waterstones Piccadilly
Waterstones confirmed it has placed an order “in the tens of thousands” for its estate of nearly 300 shops, with 500 sent directly to Waterstones' Piccadilly flagship store yesterday (9th January). While the chain may appear to have had at least a day's head start on its competitors, its flagship store in Piccadilly was the only shop to receive copies yesterday. It expects all its stores nationally will have stock by Thursday (11th January). Blackwell's is meanwhile expecting to receive stock today, with Foyles and Sainsbury's beginning sales on Thursday morning.
The book has been making the headlines around the world since excerpts from it were obtained early by the Guardian last Wednesday. The president has branded the book “fiction” and its author Michael Wolff “a fraud”, vexed by claims it contains about him and his family.
Based on 200 interviews with senior White House staff, allegations in the book include that Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon called Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with a group of Russians “treasonous”. The title also raises questions about Trump's mental health and suggests he never wanted to become president, reporting on the night of the election that Trump "looked as if he had seen a ghost" while his wife Melania "was in tears - and not of joy".
Freedom of speech organisations have applauded the stance of publishers in pushing ahead with publication and condemned legal threats from the president. The American Booksellers Association and the Authors Guild in the US respectively called it "an appalling abuse of executive power" and "flagrantly unconstitutional". Meanwhile the International Publishers Association (IPA) said it was "a worrying development for the USA, a longstanding bastion of freedom of expression". It has thrown its "full support" behind the book's publishers today.
Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, meanwhile, called attempts to block publication "disturbing" and has expressed his support, too.
“Freedom to publish is a fundamental principle that underlies the worldwide publishing industry and any attempt to stop the publication of a book is a threat to this," said Lotinga. "It is especially disturbing when such an attempt is made by representatives of the President of the United States. We stand against any attempts to curtail free speech in this way and fully support the publisher’s decision to proceed with publication of Fire and Fury.”