Simon & Schuster paid Hillary Clinton a staggering $14 million in advance royalties for her book, Hard Choices. That may turn out to be a money-losing hard choice for Simon & Schuster.
The book retails for $35. If she gets 20% of the retail sales price, the publisher must sell two million copies. But the book sold a paltry 60,000 hardback copies in the first week.
The publisher touted 100,000 sales, but this counted e-books. That’s a bad sign.
A worse sign is that it has fallen out of the top ten list on Amazon, where you can buy a copy for $21. If Simon & Schuster pays her 20% of retail, the royalty payment will take a big chunk out of the profits.
An even worse sign than this is Amazon readers’ evaluation of its quality. The vast majority have given it one star: a turkey. I never remember seeing any major book with ratings this low. This sends a message: turkey! Readers read Amazon’s reviews to make buying decisions.
People who buy a politician’s book are political junkies. They are usually the politician’s fans. This is a bad indicator.
Finally, worst of all, it’s a book on foreign policy. Americans are not interested in foreign policy unless there is a scandal, such as Benghazi. But she remains an obvious loser on the Benghazi issue. The book is self-serving on Benghazi.
Because of heavy discounting, publishers do not make much money from Amazon sales. This book may not lose the publisher a fortune, although it may. It reputedly printed a million copies to get printing costs down. These books were ordered by book stores, but unsold copies will be returned. If this happens, which is now likely, the book will be remaindered for a couple of bucks per copy — or less.