Donald Trump Jr. thanked the “deplorables,” a name Trump supporters have given themselves, for making his book, Triggered, a bestseller. As it turns out, however, the sales of his book appear to have gotten an artificial boost in numbers thanks to the Republican National Committee, which purchased several thousand copies of the book in bulk.
As The Washington Post reports, last week the president’s oldest son tweeted that supporters of him and his father had made his book No. 1 on the New York Times nonfiction hardcover bestseller list, above Mitch Albom’s Finding Chika.
“I dedicated #Triggered to the Deplorables and you guys made it #1… let’s do it again at the voting booth in November. You are the best!!! #MAGA,” he wrote, using a word that Hillary Clinton derisively used to describe some Trump supporters but which the community has taken on as a moniker.
However, there’s a bit of a problem. Next to a blurb describing the book is a symbol, looking a bit like a dagger, that would ordinarily be used as an asterisk – that is, to draw attention to something that requires further explanation. In this case, that something is the number of copies sold is inflated due to “institutional, special interest, group or bulk purchases.”
Just received my copy of ‘Triggered’ by @DonaldJTrumpJr and already a few pages in.
Great book thus far!
He dedicated it to all of the DEPLORABLES out there. I am proud to be one of them. Who else? ???????? pic.twitter.com/Kki3R2Dm83
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) November 7, 2019
In this case, it appears that those bulk purchases came from the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Specifically, the Post looked into publicly-available Federal Elections Commission filings and found that the committee spent $94,800 to purchase copies of the book from retailer Books-a-Million for a “donor promotion.”
Initially, the RNC denied having purchased copies of the book in bulk, saying that they simply made the purchases to “keep up with demand.”
New FEC disclosures show a single large RNC payment of $94,800 to Books-a-Million in October, a few days before "Triggered" was released. An RNC spokesman confirmed that the expenditure was connected to their promotion of Don Trump Jr.'s book. pic.twitter.com/vsmmsgrYCp
— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) November 21, 2019
Sussing out exactly how many copies of Triggered the RNC purchased and how it affected Trump Jr’s. position on the bestseller list, if indeed it affected things at all, is difficult. As the Post notes, the process for getting a book on the NYT Bestseller list is “shrouded in secrecy.”
Also unclear is how much the RNC paid, on a per-unit basis, for their copies of the book. Assuming that the committee paid retail price ($20) for the books, the math would indicate that the RNC’s $94,800 expenditure resulted in 4,700 copies being purchased. However, Books-a-Million does not publicly indicate its bulk pricing, and indeed, the RNC could have gotten a deal since they purchased several thousand copies. If they paid less per copy then they, of course, purchased even more books.
Meanwhile, the Post reports that it’s “generally understood” that a book needs to sell between 5,000 and 10,000 copies in a week to wind up on the Times Bestseller list.