Two books that generated lots of pre-publication interest last week (and more this week) landed in the two top spots on the print book bestseller list for the week ended January 25, 2020.
A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig took the #1 spot on the list, selling nearly 54,000 copies according to NPD BookScan. The authors made numerous television show appearances discussing the book, which largely portrays the Trump presidency as a disaster. The title sold even better in e-book than print, according to BookStat, selling nearly 71,000 digital copies.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, which has become a flashpoint for controversy over a host of industry issues centered around cultural appropriation and the lack of diverse voices in adult publishing, sold almost 49,000 print copies in its first week on sale. The book did not do as well in the e-book format as Stable Genius, selling over 20,000 copies.
While many publishing insiders did not think the controversy would harm sales of Dirt, its critics have remained very vocal, and largely dismissed a statement by Bob Miller, publisher of American Dirt publisher Flatiron Books, which seems to have only fanned the flames. The statement, in which Miller apologized for a number of missteps the company engaged in in marketing the book and announced that the tour for the book would be canceled, also included accusations of "threats to booksellers and the author," which in some cases, Miller said, included "threats of physical violence."
Critics of the book, especially those on Twitter, have decried the statement as portraying Latinx people as dangerous and threatening, only adding to the criticism of stereotyping surrounding the book. Concurrently, a host of writers have written an open letter to Oprah, who chose the book for her book club, asking her to reconsider her choice.
How sales for American Dirt will fare as the controversy rages on into a third week is anyone's guess.