Number of the Day

The Trump-Era Boom in Political Books, by the Numbers

Book readers can’t seem to know enough about Trump

Marker Editors
Published in
2 min readOct 21, 2020


10.5 Million How many political books were sold in 2020 so far, compared to 6.1 million sold during the same period last year
Photo illustration, source: CHUTTERSNAP/Unsplash

10.5 million: That’s how many copies of political books (in print and e-book formats) have been sold in the U.S. in 2020 through September, according to the Wall Street Journal, based on data from NPD Bookscan, which tracks book sales. That’s compared to just 6.1 million political books sold by this point in 2019, and does not count the 3 million hardcover copies of the first volume of President Obama’s memoir that will hit shelves next month.

It feels like a lifetime since the publication of Michael Wolff’s 2018 presidential blockbuster Fire and Fury (which sold over 4 million copies in its first year), but Americans on both sides of the political aisle seem to have a still-insatiable appetite for books about President Donald Trump. His critics and supporters are more than eager to serve them up: The Journal reported that more than 1,000 titles about Trump were published during the first three years of his term, versus just over 450 titles published about President Obama during the first three years of his presidency.

The pandemic and political turmoil of 2020 have put an unexpected wind in the sails of the book publishing industry. Unit sales of print books overall are up 6% over last year, and sales of e-books and audiobooks have doubled. But while the publishing industry is thriving in this time of uncertainty, readers seem to be buying most of their books online from the likes of Amazon, leaving independent booksellers struggling.

A Biden administration might have to plan for a book industry bailout.