Mary Trump's memoir about her uncle, "Too Much and Never Enough," outsold it in its first week.
Books about politicians and government are not considered surefire commercial hits. But since President Donald Trump entered office, books about his campaign, his administration, his family, his business, his policies, even his golf game have poured out of publishing houses big and small.
"No matter what your political position, there's really no doubt that the strong feelings around the Trump administration have pushed book sales in a way we've never seen before in the political arena," said Kristen McLean, the executive director of business development at NPD Books, a market research firm.
Early on in Trump's presidency came the first big journalistic exposés, starting with Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" and then Bob Woodward's "Fear," which sold more than 2 million copies. Next came the insider accounts of the tumult within the White House from the many officials who resigned or were fired and sought to revive their reputations and fortunes with breathless, often news-making memoirs.
"Political books broadly have worked more or less in proportion to how polarizing the figure that they orbit is, and you don't get more polarizing than Donald J. Trump," said Eamon Dolan, an executive editor at Simon & Schuster who edited Mary Trump's book.
Real-time political books detailing the inner workings of an administration have been a popular genre for decades, dating to the Eisenhower era. But the volume of titles, and the audience for them, has surged in recent years.
The subgenres that have emerged—books that praise the president, books that criticize him, White House memoirs, journalistic narratives—have taken off to an unprecedented degree under Donald Trump, said Jon Meacham, a biographer and the author of books about Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and George H.W. Bush.
In the last four years, there have been more than 1,200 unique titles about Trump, compared with around 500 books about Obama and his administration during Obama's first term, according to an analysis by NPD BookScan.
Some in the industry credit the soaring sales of political books with lifting the industry overall in recent months, despite the pandemic and economic crisis.
"When Donald Trump recommends a book, it has little impact on sales, but when Trump hates a book, it rockets to No. 1," said Latimer, the Washington literary agent. "You pray for Trump to hate your book, and you pray for him to tweet about it."
But his campaign has quietly welcomed onto its staff and policy groups people who have worked with or for Silicon Valley giants, raising concerns among the industry's critics that the companies are seeking to co-opt a potential Biden administration.
One of Biden's closest aides joined the campaign from Apple, while others held senior roles at firms that consulted for major tech companies. And a nearly 700-person volunteer group advising the campaign, the Innovation Policy Committee, includes at least eight people who work for Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times. Other committee members have close ties to the companies, including economists and lawyers who have advised them, and officials at think tanks funded by them.
The presence of the industry's allies inside Biden's policy apparatus and campaign and transition teams—and his campaign's effort to ensure the confidentiality of its policy process—has alarmed an increasingly influential coalition of liberals who say the tech titans stifle competition, disregard user privacy and fail to adequately police hate speech and disinformation.
They are hoping to dissuade Biden from following the example of his former boss, President Barack Obama, whose embrace of tech companies helped turn them into darlings in Washington.
Today the tech giants are trying to fend off new regulations or antitrust lawsuits. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have spent more than a year investigating Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple for possible violations of competition law. During a House hearing last month, lawmakers from both parties grilled the chief executives of all four companies about accusations that their dominance had hurt consumers, rivals and small businesses, as well as what they were doing to police false information.
"The environment is very different now," said Robert D. Atkinson, the president of a think tank that has been funded in part by Google, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. "When Obama took office, you know, tech was like a bromance kind of thing. Everybody loved it, and people didn't see the issues that some people see now."
Atkinson is among the allies of Big Tech on the Innovation Policy Committee. While he said the members represented "a fairly diverse set of views," he predicted that a potential Biden administration would face significant pressure from the left to clamp down on the major tech companies.