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Explosive "Fire and Fury" book tops best-seller lists, flies off bookstore shelves

Susan Page on "Fire and Fury"
Why Michael Wolff's tell-all book is "very serious" for White House 03:22

Author Michael Wolff's bombshell expose on the Trump administration has shot to the top of Amazon's and Barnes & Noble's best-seller lists. Amazon (AMZN) customers purchasing the hardcover edition of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," which publisher Henry Holt & Co. released four days ahead of schedule amid unexpectedly strong demand, will have to wait two to four weeks for shipping, according to the e-commerce site.

Barnes & Noble (BKS) lists the book as being "temporarily out of stock" on its website. According to BuzzFeed, an independent bookseller in Washington, D.C., sold out of the book less than 20 minutes after its midnight release. Book wholesale distributor Ingram Content Group also is out of stock, according to a spokeswoman.

"Right now it's probably safe to say that the total number of people who have read this book is in the small number of thousands, but in a week it will be 100,000 or 200,000," said Mike Statzkin, a publishing industry consultant.

"Fire and Fury" author's credibility questioned 14:50

Sales will be noted in other rankings, including the influential New York Times best-seller list and Publisher's Weekly, in the coming days.

The book was originally slated for release on Jan. 9. That timetable changed after The Guardian newspaper obtained a copy earlier this week and revealed some of its most explosive allegations. Excerpts of "Fire and Fury" also appeared in New York Magazine.

President Donald Trump and key members of his administration have disputed claims in Wolff's book.

Wolff's four-decade-long career in media has focused on the lives of the rich and powerful, including media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. At times, Wolff has gotten scathing reviews for some of his seven books for his writing style, as well as what some critics claim is a focus on issues of style rather than substance.

For every sale of "Fire and Fury," Holt, which is part of Germany's Holtzbrinck publishing conglomerate, earns roughly half the $30 cover price, with the remainder going to the retailer that sells it. Authors are given advances against future royalties and don't earn any money until the book earns back the advances. According to Stazkin, Wolff, who has written other best-sellers, likely received an advance in excess of six figures.

Wolff didn't respond to a message seeking comment.  Holt also couldn't be reached.

Tell-all book details battle between Steve Bannon, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner 01:57

While President Trump's personal lawyer has issued a cease-and-desist letter to Wolff and Holt over the book, that may only feed public interest in a juicy political tale that draws on the recollections of former White House adviser Steve Bannon.

Jim Milliot, editorial director at Publisher's Weekly, said "Fire and Fury" is "one of the first must-reads that we have seen for an adult book in a number of years, especially on the nonfiction side."

"It's really going to be a book that has some legs," he predicted.

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