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'Fire and Fury' sales top 29,000 in first weekend

Last Updated Jan 10, 2018 at 8:20 pm PDT

Rebecca Burgess, left, sells a copy of the book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff to Susan Vander Veer, from Peotone, Ill., at Barbara's Books Store, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” was the top-selling book last week, NPD BookScan told The Associated Press. And its numbers are likely to grow far higher.

“Fire and Fury” sold 29,000 copies, BookScan announced Wednesday. But Wolff’s explosive tell-all about the Trump administration only came out last Friday and BookScan’s weekly sales run through Saturday.

“The first couple of days of sales figures aren’t giving us the full picture,” said Kristen McLean, the NPD Group’s book industry analyst. “Because of potential distribution issues related to the early release coupled with high demand, it may take a few weeks to see exactly where this book will land in comparison to other political bestsellers of the last few years.”

McLean noted that Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened,” which came out last September, averaged sales of more than 30,000 hardcover copies per day in its opening week. But that book “was hugely anticipated and very well stocked,” she said.

“Fire and Fury” seemed to catch everyone off guard, from the Trump administration to publisher Henry Holt and Co., which has raised an initial announced printing of 150,000 to more than 1 million. Since reports of the book’s contents emerged a week ago, retailers have struggled to keep up, with Amazon.com warning of delays of two to four weeks for delivery. BookScan, which tracks about 85 per cent of the retail market, only counts an order as a sale once the book has been shipped.

The BookScan numbers also don’t include e-books. According to John Sargent, CEO of Holt parent company Macmillan, digital sales already top 250,000 copies, an extraordinary number for a nonfiction release and likely boosted by the scarcity of the hardcover edition. Audio sales exceed 100,000.

Clinton’s book, about her stunning presidential election loss in 2016 to Trump, had one of the biggest first weeks in recent history for a nonfiction book. It sold more than 300,000 copies in the combined formats of hardcover, e-book and audio, Simon & Schuster announced at the time. The debut for “Fire and Fury,” with its stories of a chaotic White House, is approaching 400,000. “Fire and Fury” will appear at No. 1 on The New York Times’ hardcover nonfiction list in the edition that runs on Jan. 21.

“Fire and Fury” was supposed to come out Tuesday but Holt moved up the release in respond to popular demand and to threats of legal action by Trump, who has denounced the book as fiction. An attorney for the president last week sent a cease-and-desist letter to Holt, asking for publication to be withheld. Sargent has issued a company memo defending the decision to publish “Fire and Fury” and a Macmillan attorney on Tuesday said the publisher planned no retraction or apology.