Omarosa Manigault Newman’s Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House—the second White House tell-all this year whose publication President Donald Trump has attempted to stymie—sold 33,484 copies in its first week on sale at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. It was #2 on PW’s hardcover nonfiction list for the week, just ahead of Gregg Jarrett’s The Russia Hoax, which sold over 20,000 copies in the week. Unhinged received a 400,000-copy first printing.
“We’re delighted that readers have responded enthusiastically to Unhinged,” a representative from Simon Schuster’s Gallery imprint said in a statement. “It is selling well in all formats—print, e-book and audio. Omarosa continues to promote the book and is committed to sharing her story.”
The book was published August 14, one day after Trump lawyer Charles Harder sent a letter on Trump’s behalf to SS, warning of possible legal action. The letter threatened “substantial monetary damages and punitive damages” should the book be published, according to a response letter from SS counsel Elizabeth A. McNamara. She reacted to Trupm’s shortly thereafter, stating that “Gallery Books and Simon Schuster are proceeding as planned with publication of Unhinged by Omarosa Manigault-Newman, confident that we are acting well within our rights and responsibilities as a publisher.”
Since news of the letter broke, a number of literary and free speech organizations have condemned the president’s tactics, just as they did earlier this year, when Harder slapped Macmillan with a cease-and-desist letter in advance of the publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, which went on to become a massive bestseller.
PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, referring to the dust-up between the Trump administration and Macmillan over Fire and Fury, called the letter to SS an attempt to “intimidate a publishing house by threatening legal retaliation in an attempt to keep a book off the shelves and out the hands of Americans who wish to read it.” Nossel added that the letter sent to Macmillan over Wolff’s book “only fueled sales and conversation about the book” and would do the same here.
Shortly thereafter, a joint statement published by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and signed by a range of organizations—including PEN America, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild—condemned the letter as well.
“For the second time this year, President Donald Trump has attempted to intimidate a book publisher by threatening legal action against it,” the statement reads. “The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that ‘debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.’ Lawyers for Simon Schuster argue strongly that the book ‘legitimately reports on information that is plainly newsworthy and highly relevant to matters of public concern.'”
In a separate statement, the Authors Guild said it was “shocking that the White House has sent another baseless threat of litigation.” The Guild continued: “As we said when Trump’s lawyers sent a cease and desist to block Fire and Fury, the ability to criticize the government and its leaders lies at the essence of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech; and threats of libel lawsuits are one of the de facto primary means of curtailing free speech in this country today.”