Dear Reader: "Fire and Fury" and Beyond
In the world of books, bookselling, and publishing, 2018 certainly did not start off slowly!
When I finished my December Dear Reader, I wrote about endings and then, evoking my Janus image, I said I’d be talking about transitions and beginnings early in the new year. Somewhat naively, I envisioned a leisurely start to 2018 — time to recover from the busyness of the holiday season — with a moderate ramp up to discussing new books for early 2018.
But as you know by now, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House changed all that! The book focuses on the early months of the administration and includes sharp criticism of the president and his family. Steve Bannon, formerly of Breitbart News, is much-quoted and much-featured. (Just look at the number of lines he gets in the index.) The book hit like a bombshell. Publisher’s Weekly said: “The publishing industry hasn’t produced a must-read adult book in several years, but that drought ended in the first week of January with Henry Holt’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House…”
The book was set to publish January 9th but excerpts from the embargoed book came out on January 3rd which prompted Holt to move up the release date to Friday, January 5th. Even with a fierce East Coast snowstorm complicating logistics—see the adjacent Instagram post from my dear friend Valerie Smith who owns the lovely Monogram Shoparound the corner from BookHampton—the book sold incredibly fast. Amazon and Barnes and Noble were out of stock by the end of the day. Independent booksellers on the East Coast also reported selling out of their inventory quickly. Politics and Prose in Washington, DC reported selling out of their 80-book shipment in 15 minutes. Here at BookHampton, our first shipment flew out the door.
The publisher is reprinting as quickly as it can with more than 1 million copies in the pipeline. Retail shipments have resumed slowly, with books being shipped to stores daily… only to go right back out in customers’ hands! BookHampton is filing orders as quickly as we can. By the time you read this (or soon thereafter), we hope to have worked through our list and have books available to sell off the shelves.
At least some of the immediate interest can be attributed to the controversy surrounding Trump’s order that Macmillan (Holt’s parent company) cease and desist from publishing the book. Indeed, Macmillan CEO John Sargent said that the company couldn’t have known how successful the title would become because it couldn’t have known that the book would be so criticized by Mr. Trump.
“We would never have predicted his statement and thus never have predicted the full scope of the demand for the book,” he said. In response to Trump’s cease-and-desist order (and Trump’s demand for an apology), Sargent described President Trump’s actions as “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.” He further wrote, “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.”
All this being said, there's much more happening in our world beyond Fire and Fury. To properly usher in the new year, I’d like to touch on a different theme: well-being. This is a strong-selling category for BookHampton, and indeed for most independent bookstores, especially this time of year. The titles get better and better each year. I think it says something about the times we live in. Many books are released each January having to do with resolutions, diet, and exercise — many of them silly, frankly… or at least falling into the “likely to fail” category.
January 2018, however, has brought us a lot of books that look good, promising, inspiring, hopeful, and enlightening. I do believe the turn of the year is an important moment to reflect and plan out at least a few goals for the year ahead. Maybe it’s to do (or not to do) something, to learn something, or to create something. It can range from Mark Zuckerberg’s ”overhaul Facebook” to my own “amp up the high intensity interval training.” Just kidding! I actually have a few more lofty goals but I’m just not telling!
Here are the books that caught my eye for well-being — and they will be featured in the store throughout the month. Have a look and see if there’s something you’d like to bring with you into the new year.
Next month, after the clamor for Fire and Fury has quieted down and we can all refocus a bit, I’ll be back with recommendations for some of the early 2018 books that have all of us at BookHampton excited for the year ahead. Teaser: in addition to good fiction and memoir, there are strong books currently out or soon to arrive about displacement and migration, the value of kinship in working with gangs, and enlightening stories and facts that show that the world is actually better off than we commonly think. I’m all for that!
'Til then, see you in the store!