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

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

Posted: Jan. 3, 2018 4:26 PM
Updated: Jan. 4, 2018 11:26 AM

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.

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Wolff's book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" will be released next Tuesday, but some journalists have already snagged copies. That's why the first official excerpt from the book was released on Wednesday.

A second excerpt will come out on Thursday, and Wolff will be interviewed on NBC's "Today" show on Friday.

The book's publisher, Henry Holt & Company, was forced to adjust its rollout plan on Wednesday.

But make no mistake: This was a good problem for Henry Holt to have. The national news coverage of the book's revelations -- including shocking quotes from Steve Bannon -- sent the book soaring on Amazon.com. By 3 p.m. ET, it was ranked #1 on the site's best-selling books list. Twenty-four hours earlier, it had been ranked #48,449.

In some ways, this is a dream scenario for an author and a publishing house.

The Guardian newspaper says it obtained an advance copy of "Fire and Fury" by buying it from a bookstore somewhere in New England -- it didn't say where exactly.

The Guardian posted a story with some of the highlights on Wednesday morning,

New York magazine previously purchased the rights to publish the first multi-thousand-word excerpt from the book, known as the "first serial." It 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.

Related: Bannon: 2016 Trump Tower meeting was 'treasonous'

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 was going to be on NBC's flagship morning show "Today," followed by several MSNBC newscasts and talk shows. Then Wolff would start to appear on other networks.

Executives at Henry Holt and NBC conferred on Wednesday, according to two sources, and a new timetable was agreed upon.

Wolff will now appear on "Today" on Friday morning 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.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called it "trashy tabloid fiction" on Wednesday, even though her boss spoke with Wolff during the reporting process.

After "Today," Wolff will also appear on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, the sources said. An NBC spokeswoman declined to comment.

Henry Holt had to weigh how much advance press to do versus how much to hold back until the release date. This tension frequently exists with highlyanticipated 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.

In this case, copies of "Fire and Fury" are already beginning to circulate widely.

By mid-afternoon on Wednesday, MSNBC anchors were reading aloud from advance copies. The Wall Street Journal said it, too, had obtained a copy.

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