Let's keep this going
Sign up today to receive our daily news briefs featuring a handful of the most important stories in business, tech, and life. Weekdays at 9am Pacific

EMAILED ON April 22, 2019 BY Conor Grant

Mueller Mania is in full swing, and people are paying a pretty penny for the free report

Unless you just woke up from a 10-day-long nap, you probably know the long-awaited Mueller Report was released to the public last Thursday.

But, over the weekend, the report wasn’t only fodder for dinner-table I-told-you-sos and Facebook feuds — it was also the #1 best-seller on Amazon. And the #2 best-seller. And the #3 best-seller… 

Welcome to Mueller Inc.

The Mueller Report is available for free on the Justice Department’s site (here). But that didn’t stop publishers from printing it for profit.

Simon & Schuster’s Scribner published a version “presented with related materials by The Washington Post” — available for $10.22 as a paperback or $7.99 on the Kindle — that topped Amazon’s best-seller rankings.

Publisher Skyhorse’s version, featuring an intro by a Harvard law professor, claimed the #2 spot (at $9.20 in paperback); publisher Melville House’s straight-up version (just $7.27) took the #3 spot. 

Based on average Amazon sales rank data, Simon and Schuster will rake in $54.7k every day it occupies the top spot (Skyhorse will make $38.5k in the #2 spot and Melville will make $26.1k at #3).

People aren’t buying books, they’re buying mementos

The fact that people bought enough copies of a free report to mint not 1 but 3 separate best-sellers may seem unlikely, or even downright dumb.

But it’s not the first time a government document has gone big: The Starr Report (about President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky) and the Pentagon Papers both became popular best-sellers after printing in 1998 and 2011, respectively.

Perceptive publishers know that people don’t buy these books for the info they contain, but the emotions they evoke: A physical Mueller Report meta-memorializes months of dramatic, scandalous, and conversation-starting news cycles in a single, boring book.

The many faces of Mueller Mania

These popular prints were easy money for publishers, who often struggle to forecast demand. Several publishers put books on pre-sale before the report was published, and Skyhorse printed an initial run of 200k books. 

Publishers weren’t the only people to profit from Mueller Mania. 

If Mueller books are the material manifestation of crazy cable coverage, months of madcap memes found physical form as… T-shirts.

For anyone in the market, a tee printed with “I investigated Trump for 2 years and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” is available now on Amazon Prime, in multiple colors, for $17.77. 

Get news (like this) delivered by email every morning