Business

Michael Wolff's Trump book hits #1 on Amazon, publisher speeds up rollout plan

Posted January 3, 2018 3:16 p.m. EST

— The first tell-all of the Trump presidency is out -- but it's not by a former Trump aide.

Instead, it's by Michael Wolff, the controversial media columnist who embedded himself inside the White House during the chaotic early months of the Trump administration.

Wolff's book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" will be released next Tuesday, but some copies have already reached booksellers. That's how The Guardian newspaper says it snagged an advance copy -- by buying it from a bookstore somewhere in New England.

The Guardian posted a story with some of the highlights on Wednesday morning, forcing the book's publisher, Henry Holt and Company, to adjust its rollout plan.

Wolff may hit the TV interview circuit sooner than planned, so that he can capitalize on widespread interest in the reporting -- and respond to the strongly worded statements about the book's contents coming from the White House.

New York magazine, which purchased the rights to publish the first multi-thousand-word excerpt from the book, known as "first serial," reacted to the Guardian story by moving up the online publication of the excerpt.

The magazine published the bombshell story -- painting a portrait of a highly dysfunctional White House plagued by incompetence and infighting -- just before noon on Wednesday. It'll be the cover story in next week's print edition.

Wolff's quotes from figures like Steve Bannon and anonymously sourced claims about Trump dominated Wednesday afternoon news coverage.

The book suddenly soared on Amazon.com. By 3 p.m. Eastern, it was ranked #1 on the site's best selling books list. Twenty-four hours earlier, it had been ranked #48,449.

There's a lot more still to come. According to the magazine, Wolff says he conducted 200 interviews for the book and spent months in the West Wing.

A second excerpt will be published by The Hollywood Reporter, where Wolff is a columnist.

According to a source with direct knowledge of the plan, THR's story was embargoed and slated for next week's print edition.

But now it will be posted on the web on Thursday morning, according to THR editor Matthew Belloni. "Lots of stuff still to be revealed," Belloni said on Twitter.

One thing is for sure: The physical book won't be released to the public before next Tuesday.

Wolff was slated to start speaking publicly about "Fire and Fury" next Monday, one day before the release. Henry Holt and NBC arranged a package of interviews on NBC and MSNBC, according to another source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The first interview is on "Today," followed by "Morning Joe" and other MSNBC newscasts and talk shows. Then Wolff will appear on other channels.

Now the interviews may be moved up, two sources said. Already, some MSNBC anchors have been reading aloud from advance copies of the book.

In general, Henry Holt is weighing how much advance press to do versus how much to hold back until the release date.

This tension frequently exists with highly anticipated books about politics and other subjects.

Despite the best efforts of publishers to keep books under embargo, journalists are frequently able to buy early copies from bookstores. That's how CNN obtained a copy of Hillary Clinton's campaign memoir last fall.

Some journalists are known to check airport bookstores, for instance, because airports have been a useful source of advance copies in the past.

By mid-afternoon on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal said it, too, had obtained a copy.