Despite the large-scale bad press What Happened received in the days leading up to its release, sales data show that Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoir sold 300,000 copies in its first week, becoming one of the 2016 Democratic candidate's bestselling books of all time. Those amazing sales numbers demonstrate that, not only is Clinton not about to do as she's told and disappear, her new book isn't here for her detractors' sexism, either. As MSNBC's Rachel Maddow points out, "this is not a retired politician," but a new, unburdened version of Clinton.
In its first week, What Happened outsold both Hard Choices, Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2014 memoir about her time as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, and Stronger Together, her 2016 campaign book, which was co-written with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). What Happened only moved half as many copies as her 2003 book, Living History, which "sold more than 600,000 copies in its first week," a feat ABC News attributes to the fact that it "came out before the fall of the Borders superstore chain and struggles of Barnes & Noble weakened the hardcover market."
What Happened had the biggest hardcover nonfiction opening in five years, since former Navy Seal Mark Owen's 2012 memoir about the assassination of Osama bin Laden, titled No Easy Day, moved 250,000 copies in its first week in stores. Women are woefully underrepresented in politics, and the so-called uncle books — a category to which No Easy Day belongs — dominate the pop-history market, so for What Happened to outsell Owen's memoir is pretty stunning.
As I've written previously, many people on both sides of the aisle appear to believe that Hillary Rodham Clinton should fade into obscurity as some sort of penance for losing the 2016 electoral college vote. It's a nonsensical demand, and one that has never been placed on a losing male candidate, but Clinton, who is arguably the most-qualified U.S. presidential candidate in modern history, has been subjected to it every time she has made headlines over the last 10 months.
But the 300,000 copies What Happened sold show that a large number of people still care about what Clinton has to say about U.S. politics. The former Secretary of State has come to a major crossroads in her career, and thousands of her fellow citizens want to see where she goes from here, and support her in the next leg of her journey. If anything, that's a testament to Hillary Rodham Clinton's staying power, and an example of exactly why she should not flee the scene.