Sales of “Fear,” Bob Woodward’s new book about the first year of the Trump administration, are off to a phenomenal start this week.
Simon & Schuster announced that “Fear” sold more than 750,000 copies in all formats through Tuesday, Sept. 11, when the book officially went on sale. Pre-order sales were the largest for any title in the company’s history. The publisher has ordered a ninth printing, bringing the number of hardcover copies to more than 1,150,000.
Barnes & Noble announced that “Fear” is the fastest-selling adult title since Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” was released in 2015.
Advance sales outstripped supply at Amazon.com. The online bookseller is displaying a message saying that copies of “Fear” will ship “within 1 to 3 weeks.” According to an Amazon spokesman, more stock is on the way. Once those copies arrive, the availability message on the website will be updated. In the meantime, the Kindle and Audible versions are available for immediate download. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Local bookstores in the Washington area have seen strong sales of “Fear,” though no signs of Harry Potter-level panic among buyers.
Politics and Prose had 500 copies on hand, 300 of which were already claimed as pre-orders. Co-owner Bradley Graham said the store sold another 60 copies Tuesday morning. This being Washington, some buyers bought multiple copies. “The largest bulk purchases went to foreign embassies,” Graham said. “One embassy paid for 13. Another bought four.” Graham also noted that demand for Woodward’s upcoming book talk has been intense. The entire venue of several hundred tickets “sold out in seconds last week.” That event has been moved to George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium on Sept. 27. Additional tickets will go on sale later this week.
Ironically, while you can’t get a hard copy of “Fear” from Amazon.com, you can still pick one up at the bricks-and-mortar Amazon store in Georgetown. The manager there declined to say how many copies he had ordered.
The manager at Barnes & Noble in Rockville said he had “plenty of copies on hand” Tuesday morning, though the company as a whole is keeping tabs on its stock. Sales of the book in stores and online “look phenomenal out of the gate,” said Liz Harwell, senior director of merchandising at Barnes & Noble headquarters. “Even with a strong roster of bestselling political titles this year, Woodward’s book is on pace to have the biggest first-day sales of the bunch.”
One More Page in Arlington ordered 20 copies initially, all of which were snapped up as pre-orders. One of those copies was claimed by the mother of the store’s book buyer, Lelia Nebeker. “She said if somebody else needed it, she’d give up her copy,” Nebeker said. As it turns out, a customer from out of town wanted it. A mother’s sacrifice knows no bounds.
Ron Charles writes about books for The Washington Post and hosts TotallyHipVideoBookReview.com.