Former F.B.I. director James Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” has dominated headlines for more than a week, and became an instant blockbuster, selling more than 600,000 copies in all formats during its first week on sale.
Mr. Comey’s publisher, Flatiron Books, has ordered multiple reprints to meet demand, and now has more than a million copies in print.
The early sales figures for Mr. Comey’s book dwarfed other recent political best sellers. Hillary Clinton’s memoir, “What Happened,” sold more than 300,000 copies in all formats in its first week on sale. And “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s explosive look inside the Trump White House, sold around 200,000 hardcover copies in its first full week on sale, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks about 85 percent of print sales. Mr. Wolff’s book, which came out in January, has sold more than 2 million copies to date.
Mr. Comey has no doubt benefited from wall-to-wall television coverage. He has given revealing interviews on every major news network, drawing angry tweets from President Trump, which in turn prompted more news coverage of the book. That cycle will likely drag on as Mr. Comey continues his book promotion tour this week with an appearance at a CNN Town Hall and an interview on Fox News Channel.
[Click here to read The Times review of the book.]
But the book is also, not surprisingly, polarizing, much like Mr. Comey himself. Some have praised it as a revealing and honest account of Mr. Comey’s role in some of the biggest political scandals of our time, including the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server, the investigation into Russian collusion and his fraught relationship with the president. But others have argued that Mr. Comey has undermined his own message about the need for nonpartisan, ethical leadership by discussing some of the more salacious and sensational aspects of the Russia investigation, and by withholding his unsettling opinions about the president’s fitness for office until his book tour to maximize publicity.
In a sign of how fraught and politicized the conversation surrounding the book has become, Amazon limited reviews of “A Higher Loyalty” to Amazon customers who have purchased the book through the site, presumably to prevent trolls and cheerleaders who haven’t read the book from skewing the ratings. Normally, anyone can leave a review of a book without having to purchase it through Amazon. The filter suggests that Amazon noticed that people were flooding the site with political opinions rather than straight book reviews.
This product currently has limitations on submitting reviews,” a message on the site says. “This may be because we detected unusual review behavior on this product.”
Amazon said that its action in limiting reviews for Mr. Comey’s book wasn’t that unusual, and noted that reviews aren’t suppressed simply for being nasty. “We never reject reviews based on star rating or sentiment,” the company said in a statement. “When numerous reviews post in a short amount of time that are unrelated to the product, we suppress all non-Amazon Verified Purchase (AVP) reviews.”
Still, the bulk of the reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive. Of the more than 800 reviews posted as of Tuesday morning, 90 percent were five stars. Perhaps Mr. Comey’s staunchest detractors don’t want to buy and read the book after all.