Despite canceling her book tour and receiving scathing reviews, Ivanka Trump appears to have a best-seller on her hands. According to CNN, Women Who Work, which was released on May 2, will debut at No. 4 on next week’s New York Times Best Sellers list of advice and how-to books.
The book, Trump’s second, is an extension of the first daughter’s initiative of the same name, which started as a hashtag she used to market her shoe line, inspired by the catchiness of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, the New York Times reported in a profile last week. Eventually, the phrase grew into a brand in an of itself, through which the fashion and real estate mogul positioned herself as an advocate for women’s issues. She says she wrote this book before her father won the election last year, and before she became one of the most powerful women in the world, as an adviser to the president. But it’s impossible for anyone to put her current position aside when assessing this work.
“It’s an attempt to look as if she cares about women’s empowerment — just not when it comes to her father,” wrote Kristen Jordan Shamus of the Detroit Free Press.
Many, like Samantha Bee on her show this week, have poked fun of the book’s reliance on inspirational quotes for content. “It’s like Ivanka forgot she had a book assignment, remembered on the last day, ran to the Hudson Books, ripped out random pages, then vision-boarded them together over the contents of her wastebasket to create Women Who Work — the only book to quote Nelson Mandela, Sun Tzu, and Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” Bee said on Wednesday’s Full Frontal.
In the New York Times, Jennifer Senior called it a “strawberry milkshake” of quotes, but the real problem, she said, is that Trump’s brand of feminism has “less to do with structural change than individual fulfillment and accessorizing properly.” The question of who the book is for also irks Jia Tolentino at the New Yorker, who notes that the Trump doesn’t mention paid leave and affordable childcare until the second-to-last page.
“The imagined audience for the book is so rarefied that Ivanka confidently calls paying bills and buying groceries ‘not enormously impactful’ to one’s daily productivity,” Tolentino wrote.
But the numbers indicate that people are buying it. As the Huffington Post pointed out, the good and bad reviews on Amazon.com (where it’s the No. 1 new release in Job Hunting and Career Guides) are pretty evenly split. Of 107 customer reviews (which are supposed to be from verified buyers of the book), 50 percent gave it five stars and 45 percent gave it one star.
“Ivanka may have been born into a wealthy family, but she was taught the value of work, and the secrets to success by a successful mother and father,” wrote Priscilla Smith in her five-star review. “Don’t let the Trump hate prevent you from reading her book.”
Just like her father, Trump is not relying on the traditional channels to garner sales.
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