When Donald Trump Jr.’s new book “Triggered” appeared at the top of the New York Times bestseller list earlier this month, a debate erupted over how and why it had claimed the No. 1 spot.
The book, a broad attack on his critics, Democrats and the news media, was published Nov. 5.
The following week, it topped the bestseller list, and skeptics noted that Trump Jr. had gotten a huge boost from the Republican National Committee, which emailed supporters the day the book came out, asking them to purchase signed copies and touting it as the book the “left doesn’t want you to read.”
“We haven’t made a large bulk purchase but are ordering copies to keep up with demand,” Mike Reed, an RNC spokesman, said two days after the fundraising email promoting “Triggered” was sent. “Each book is sold to an individual who supports the Republican Party.”
A financial disclosure form filed to the Federal Election Commission showed the RNC paid $94,800 to the bookseller chain Books-A-Million on Oct. 29, a week before the book went on sale. Disclosures filed by the RNC indicate the payment was for “donor mementos.”
»FROM OCTOBER: Trump Jr. to raise cash for Doug Collins in north Georgia
When asked about the disclosure Thursday, Reed confirmed the money went toward “Triggered” orders and added the party committee made additional purchases in November. “The book has been hugely popular,” he said.
Asked about the discrepancy, because the committee previously said it was only ordering copies as supporters requested them, Reed said via email: “We stand by our statement.”
What it means
It is difficult to know for sure how many copies of Trump’s book were sold through bulk orders, whether to the RNC or other groups.
A tiny dagger symbol appeared next to the title on the bestseller list, indicating that bulk purchases of the book had boosted its ranking. (Of the 10 nonfiction hardcover titles currently on The Times’ bestseller list, “Triggered” is the only one featuring that symbol.)
Some of Trump’s supporters pushed back on social media and anonymously to FOX News, saying that even without bulk sales, “Triggered” would still top the list. The Times does not disclose the methodology behind its bestseller lists, and the dagger symbol only indicates that at least some bookstores reported bulk sales.
According to NPD BookScan, which tracks print book sales, “Triggered” has sold more than 115,000 copies as of Nov. 16. Patsy S. Jones, the vice president of marketing for Hachette Book Group Nashville, which published “Triggered” through its imprint Center Street, said the publisher hasn’t sold in bulk to the RNC and the company isn’t aware of any third-party purchases.
While it’s not uncommon for books to be sold for fundraising purposes by Republican and Democratic committees, the RNC’s “Triggered” purchase is unusual in that the committee is promoting a book written by a candidate’s son who isn’t a politician and isn’t running for office.
The RNC said it has raised more than $500,000 from sales of the book, which the younger Trump has been promoting through a nationwide book tour, with stops at Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble stores and the Trump International Hotel.
More about the book
In the 287-page book, which bears the subtitle “How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” he rails against Democrats, saying their goal was to “make my father and me cower in a corner, curl up in a ball, and die.”
“Triggered” is one of several books by conservatives to land on the bestseller lists recently, along with the “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade’s book “Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers” and Nikki Haley’s “With All Due Respect.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.