Since its early publication last Friday, Michael Wolff's explosive White House tell-all Fire and Fury has already sold 1 million orders and the publisher is struggling to keep up with demand. Not only is it sold-out at major online booksellers and brick-and-mortar stores across the country, Fire and Fury has also become the most pirated book in recent history. One thing is clear: the American people are fascinated with this controversial book.
In the face of the bomb cyclone in the northeast and extreme winter weather across the country, hungry readers lined up at bookstores on Friday to get their hands on Fire and Fury, which flew off the shelves in a matter of minutes in some cases. Throughout the weekend, more and more reports poured in that Wolff's must-have exposé had sold out virtually everywhere. Physical bookstores couldn't keep their shelves stocked with the minimal copies they had, major online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble reported a minimum of a two-week wait, and demand for the book at public libraries even broke wait list records in major cities across the country. From journalists to government employees, politics nerds to everyday Americans, everyone, it seems, wants to read this book. The only problem is, Fire and Fury is currently nearly impossible to get.
Originally scheduled to be released today, Jan. 9, Fire and Fury had an initial print run of 150,000 hardcover books. Thanks to nearly constant media coverage of Wolff's sensational title, however, reader demand has far surpassed the publisher's original expectations, and according to the New York Times, orders for Fire and Fury have surpassed 1 million. That number doesn't include the hundreds of thousands of ebook sales and additional audiobook downloads that reach the "low six figures." In just four days, Fire and Fury has become one of the most highly sought after nonfiction books in decades, so much so that people will do just about anything to get a chance to read it.
As publisher Henry Holt scrambles to meet demand, readers are resorting to a tactic usually reserved for blockbuster movies and hit TV shows: online pirated copies. According to a report from Vice's Motherboard, the storm of media coverage and Trump's own anger over Fire and Fury, coupled with the fact the book is sold out everywhere, has led online users to illegally share digital copies of it online. Various digital versions of Fire and Fury appeared online within hours of the book's initial release, and currently, there are dozens of copies of it available on one of the most popular torrent sites, The Pirate Bay. On reddit's popular Mega cloud service subreddit, Wolff's book is the most upvoted file of the week, proving to be more popular that Blade Runner 2049, the new season of Black Mirror, and recent Golden Globe winner The Shape of Water.
While it isn't unheard of for online users to pirate a book, the sheer number of people doing so with Fire and Fury is notable and reaches the levels of popular movies and TV shows. While the lack of physical copies of Wolff's book could certainly be fueling this wave of book pirating, the trend also reveals just how popular Fire and Fury has become. Readers will stop at nothing for their chance to get an inside look at the Trump administration and all of its drama, despite the president's best efforts to prevent them.
After explosive excerpts of Fire and Fury were released by the Guardian last week, Trump's lawyers issued a cease-and-desist letter to both Wolff and Henry Holt. The publisher responded by moving up the publication of the book, citing "unprecedented demand." In response to Trump's criticism of the book's publication and his legal attempts to prevent its publication, Macmillan CEO John Sargent sent a memo to employees about Fire and Fury that explained the publisher's stance. In part, it read:
"We will not allow any president to achieve by intimidation what our Constitution precludes him or her from achieving in court. 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."
Currently, Henry Holt is rushing to meet the demand for 1 million copies of Fire and Fury, and as Sargent's memo explains, they won't let anything stand in their way of putting books in the hands of readers who demand them.