E. Jean Carroll book mentioned in Trump trial soars to $2,100 a copy

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Trump walks out of defamation trial

Trump walks out of defamation trial in middle of closing arguments 02:34

During the second defamation case brought by writer E. Jean Carroll against former President Donald Trump, his attorney drew attention to one of her books — a little-known 1980s work called “Female Difficulties: Sorority Sisters, Rodeo Queens, Frigid Women, Smut Stars and Other Modern Girls.”

Trump lawyer Alina Habba asked Carroll in court last week to explain the title of her book, a collection of essays, with the attorney trying to show that the writer had once written about “smut stars,” according to Business Insider. The line of questioning went nowhere, with the judge sustaining an objection from Carroll’s attorney. 

But the mention of Carroll’s book during the closely watched trial has had one tangible result: Used copies of the book are now fetching thousands of dollars. On Friday morning, a used copy of “Female Difficulties” was listed for about $2,141 on used book site AbeBooks, but by Friday afternoon the book was no longer available. Another copy was available on Amazon for $999.99. Bibio is selling a copy for $199.

On Friday, a federal jury ruled that Trump must pay $83.3 million in damages for defamatory statements he made denying he sexually assaulted Carroll, a stunning verdict given that her attorneys were seeking $10 million for reputational harm and other unspecified punitive damages.

E. Jean Carroll’s essay collection “Female Difficulties” was listing for $2,141 on AbeBooks on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Megan Cerullo

Mention of the book during the trial prompted New Yorker writer Emily Nussbaum to buy a copy and tweet about the book, which at the time was blurbed by author Hunter Thompson, who called her a “wild writer,” and novelist Richard Price (“extremely funny and slightly frightening”).

“I heard this book from 1985 came up in court last week, so I bought it and I’m reading it and it’s *GREAT*,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “Got it online for $80, well worth it.”

I heard this book from 1985 came up in court last week, so I bought it and I’m reading it and it’s *GREAT* pic.twitter.com/BUKSnWldK8

— Emily Nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) January 24, 2024

Carroll is better known today for her legal battles with Trump, but she built a career on providing advice to women through her “Ask E. Jean” column in Elle magazine. Her 2019 nonfiction book, “What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal,” was called an “entertaining and rage-making romp of a read” by The Guardian. 

That book also detailed her alleged sexual assault by Trump in a dressing room in the 1990s, with Carroll writing that she encountered Trump at the Bergdorf Goodman department store when he asked for advice on a gift for “a girl.” Carroll said they ended up in the lingerie department, where Trump allegedly coerced her into a dressing room and sexually assaulted her.

Trump denied her allegations, claiming he had never met her. That led to Carroll filing a defamation lawsuit against him. In May 2023, a jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a separate case, awarding Carroll $5 million in damages. 

The current defamation case is focused on comments Trump made in 2019, which a judge has already ruled were defamatory. The proceedings were designed to determine the damages Carroll should receive.

Still, not all of Carroll’s books are getting the same boost. Copies of “What Do We Need Men For?” are available on Amazon for as little as $3.51 a copy.

Aimee Picchi

Aimee Picchi is the associate managing editor for CBS MoneyWatch, where she covers business and personal finance. She previously worked at Bloomberg News and has written for national news outlets including USA Today and Consumer Reports.

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