On July 4, the Berkeley, Calif.-based nonprofit press Heyday Books, is releasing Our Dishonest President, a compilation of six editorials originally published in the Los Angeles Times last spring. The book came about after Heyday's publisher, who used to work at the Times, approached the newspaper about publishing the columns in book form.
Steve Wasserman, publisher at Heyday, was editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times book review section from 1996-2005. He explained that the book took shape after he approached the paper's editor-in-chief, Davan Maharaj, and its opinion page editor, Nicholas Goldberg, who oversaw the series of editorials in the Times.
The editorials in Our Dishonest President ran on the front page of the newspaper on six consecutive days between April 2-7, and were scathing denunciations of the Trump administration. The series launched with an article called “Our Dishonest President,” and was followed by pieces with titles like “Why Trump Lies” and “Conspiracy Theorist in Chief.”
"I was struck by the boldness, the unvarnished elegance, of the language [of the editorials],” Wasserman explained. “In my memory with the Los Angeles Times, I couldn’t recall another instance where it took such a public stand. And editorials on the front page: that is unprecedented.”
The book, which is crashing less than three months after Wasserman initiated contact with Maharaj and Goldberg in April, marks the first instant book Heyday has published. It's also somewhat of a thematic departure for the 43-year-old press, which publishes approximately 25 nonfiction titles each year, primarily on California’s cultural and natural history. The company’s most popular titles include A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us and Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast.
Our Dishonest President, which clocks in at 112 pages and will retail for $7.99, is being released simultaneously in print and digital formats, with a 10,000-copy initial print run. Heyday typically orders 2,000-3,000-copy first print runs. While readers can read the editorials for free on the Los Angeles Times’ website, Wasserman insists that there is a market for the book. Part of this gambit is based on the popularity of the articles.
The first installment in the series garnered 4.5 million page views. (Typically, Times' editorials receive anywhere from 50,000-100,000 page views.) Wasserman said that many people who do not read the newspaper as part of their daily routine have heard about the series, but have not read it in its entirety. And, he believes, many readers find it more efficient to read “a physical book as an argument proceeds, chapter by chapter."
Referring to the spate of books critical of Trump and his presidency that have been moving quickly through the publishing pipeline since the election, Wasserman sounded a note of optimism. “President Trump is going to make publishing great again,” he said, noting that orders for Our Dishonest President have been “robust" across the board.