Spectator USA

Skip to Content

Books Cockburn Donald Trump US Politics

What sells more books: Trump love or Trump hate?

The answer probably won’t surprise you

November 30, 2018

3:43 PM

30 November 2018

3:43 PM

Are product plugs on social media really that influential? Opinions on the matter range between Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin, who got ‘pretty ticked off’ at how no one cared about his endorsement of a pro-climate change candidate, to The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil, who recently wished Cardi B would ‘shit her pants in public’ for promoting detox teas. It’s a debate that’s been reignited this week after President Trump offered his suggestions for which books could serve as stocking fillers for his supporters:

Now, Cockburn knows what you’re thinking: taking a book recommendation from Donald Trump is akin to trusting a vegan’s endorsement for the best BBQ joint in town, or getting sex tips from a nun. The President is an avowed non-reader: would anyone sign up for the Trump Book Club?

Keith Urbahn, founder of the literary agency Javelin, thinks not. ‘POTUS book endorsement tweets don’t move more than a few dozen copies, if even that,’ he tweeted Thursday.

‘POTUS book condemnation tweets instantly move thousands of copies, as Comey, Woodward and Wolff know well.’

Urbahn would know: his firm represent some of the year’s biggest political bestsellers, like James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty and Ben Sasse’s Them.

How can we tell the impact of Trump tweets on book sales? Urbahn told Cockburn, ‘Book sales aren’t measured by the hour so it’s hard to say with any precision. The only rough estimate on an hourly basis is the Amazon ranking of a given book. I watch the Amazon rankings keenly when a book is mentioned by the President and have had several books we have represented tweeted positively. The Amazon rank barely moves; if it does, no more than a couple dozen slots. Occasionally it leads to additional media, but we have not found it drive any measurable sales.

‘Conversely, there was no single bigger driver of sales for James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty than Donald Trump’s tweetstorms about it. We had sold hundreds of thousands of copies before the book had even gone on sale because the President had decided to elevate Comey and his book as his major antagonists the week before the book was published.’

Struggling authors must be kicking themselves that the secret to success is this simple…

Sign up to receive a weekly summary of the best of Spectator USA

Show comments