The enormous demand for author Michael Wolff’s exposé on President Trump’s White House, “Fire and Fury,” has created a scramble for copies as online and physical retailers struggle to supply their customers. The crowded market has led some antsy readers to look in their local libraries instead, but they won’t find much luck there either at the moment.
The New York Public Library, the second-largest public library system in the U.S. behind only the Library of Congress, had 1,174 holds (and rising) on 49 copies of the #1 Amazon best seller, NYPL spokeswoman Ayofemi Kirby told TIME. She said that the library has a two-week checkout period for new books, meaning it will take weeks — maybe months — for patrons to get their hands on “Fire and Fury.” In response, the library ordered 450 more rush copies, Kirby said.
Washington, D.C. Public Library spokesman George Williams said the system was ordering 65 copies in addition to the 31 it already has in order to keep up with the demand.
“At this particular point in time, everyone who is waiting to borrow the physical books will likely have their hands on it within six weeks,” he said. Williams added that the library also had 20 electronic copies of the book, but those readers would have to wait even longer than six weeks because it’s more expensive for libraries to carry e-books rather than physical editions.
The situation is mirrored in cities all over the country. In Portland, Ore., the Multnomah County Library tweeted that it had over 700 holds, prompting the system to order 150 copies. Both Boston and San Francisco library officials told TIME that patrons could have to wait up to three months to check out a copy.
“The demand for this book is huge,” said Peter Persic of the Los Angeles Public Library. “It’s comparable to the first day sales of the ‘Harry Potter’ books back in their heyday.
“What makes it especially unusual is [that it’s] a nonfiction,” Persic added. “Usually bestsellers of this type are fiction books. It’s probably our biggest nonfiction bestseller in years, since anyone can remember.”
Interest in Wolff’s title exploded earlier this week when The Guardian and New York magazine published excerpts from the book detailing “explosive” details from within the White House over the course of Trump’s first year in office. Among the most astonishing revelations was that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon described Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner’s 2016 meeting with Russian officials as “treasonous,” prompting Trump to release a statement Wednesday saying that Bannon had “lost his mind.”
On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to Wolff and his book’s publisher, Henry Holt and Co., in order to halt the publication. Instead, Henry Holt and Co. opted to move up the release date to the following day, Friday, citing “unprecedented demand.”
“My understanding is that three days ago, there was one hold in place. Yesterday it was 200,” said Chicago Public Library spokesperson Patrick Molloy. “Now it’s at 564. It’s going to be a while.”
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