Republicans Issue Cryptic Remark Over Trump Jr's New Book

'Triggered' is No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, but is that legit?
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2019 4:00 PM CST
Trump Jr's New Book Is No. 1—Unless the GOP Paid for That
Donald Trump Jr. gives a thumbs up to an audience member after a panel discussion at a Liberty University Convocation, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Lynchburg, Va.   (AP Photo/Don Petersen)

Donald Trump Jr's book Triggered is No. 1 nationwide—but what's the little dagger symbol beside it on the New York Times bestseller list? That indicates bulk purchases improved its ranking, and sure enough, the Republican National Committee paid a bookseller chain $94,800 the week before Triggered went on sale, the New York Times reports. An RNC disclosure said the money went to "donor mementos," but committee rep Mike Reed admitted it paid for copies of Triggered. Asked to explain the disparity, he said by email, "We stand by our statement." Now the apparent boost to Trump Jr's book sales is causing a kerfuffle across mainstream media:

  • Not enough: The RNC's purchases weren't enough to make the book No. 1 on the Times list, sources tell CNN. "People are making way too much of something that has no basis in fact," says a book industry expert. "The math is obvious." Eric Nelson, a top honcho at Broadside Books, says the notion that the RNC caused the success is "empirically, provably false."

  • The numbers: NPD Bookscan, an industry standard for book sales, says 70,730 hardcover copies of Triggered sold in its first week. No. 2 on the Times list, Finding Chika, sold 30,678 copies. If the RNC spent roughly $100,000 on the book, at $30 a pop, that comes to about 3,500 copies, or roughly 7,000 copies at a possible 50% discount. Hardly enough to make the difference.
  • Hmmm: But the Times list is based on the paper's own obscure system, not raw Bookscan sales, and the Times is standing by its story. What's more, the dagger symbol is for "institutional, special interest, [and] group" sales as well as "bulk purchases." Head-scratching is allowed.
  • Amazon: Tell that to Fox News, which notes that Triggered is also No. 1 on Amazon, where bulk buys amount to just one purchase. Sources add that Trump Jr's book signings are selling lots of books—an average of 1,000 book sales each.
  • Donor bump: Seems the RNC's bulk buy was used as a "fundraising incentive for donors," USA Today reports. Reed, the RNC rep, said copies were bought "to keep up with demand. Each book is sold to an individual who supports the Republican Party."
  • Trump bestsellers: The Trump family has long been fascinated by the status of a bestseller, the Washington Post reports. President Trump has a penned a few himself and doesn't mind mentioning it—like in a 2016 Las Vegas speech, when he said The Art of the Deal was "one of the biggest-selling, certainly the biggest-selling business book of all time, by far. So I did books. Tremendous success."
(Another president is facing impeachment over Donald Trump Jr.)

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