Absurdity

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Celebs failing but at what cost?

Liked this article in The Guardian this week about the abject failure of many of the celeb lead offerings from (mostly) the larger publishers. Unfortunately, it is these almost exclusively bad books which get the column inches and the prime retail spots. This means that those books which do have some merit and should be out there have to shout very very loud to be noticed at all. And, in 2006 ‘very very loud shouting’ almost always equates to money something in very short supply for the majority of publishers.

I mean really you do wonder at the thinking of many of those commissioning some of these books. Seriously, who on earth would ever think Ashley Cole was that interesting. But, this seems to be the trend.

Take an incident that is of passing interest such as Ashley Cole’s shambolic/shameless courting of Chelsea or the idea of Blunkett getting laid (i.e a tabloid story that we feel a little guilty about being interested in but nevertheless are) and extrapolate from that to conclude that we would be interested in a full blown book about the object of these stories.

I am not saying that there isn’t a place for telling the stories of interesting people who have done interesting things but these books are very rarely that. And, generally the least said about the quality of writing the better. But, what does also concern me is the lazy/lowest common denominator thinking of those commissioning some of these books. I mean these are often very bright and experienced people and yet they seem unable to do simple maths. Almost, based on any but the most extreme success.

Let’s look at the Cashley Cole book with some rough maths. It is reported that he received an advance of £250,000. For the purposes of the calculation shown below (from the ever excellent Anko Publishing Manager of course). We have simply included an origination cost of £4 a copy for the hardback and given him a reasonably generous flat royalty of 10% on net receipts. Oh, and based the numbers on the publishers price of £18.99 retail with a 50% discount level. As you can see in order to simply get our £250,000 back we would need to have sold at 260,000 copies. Always, I would suggest ambitious particularly as the title is likely to have marginal interest in reality outside the UK market. For instance hardly likely to make it on to the NY Time Bestseller list.

Cashley 18.99

That particular book has actually sold (according to the Guardian article) about 4,000 copies to date and most of those at nothing like the £18.99 price slapped on it by the publisher. So, if we take the price at the £8.93 it is currently being offered at on Amazon and adjust the copies sold we can see that the publisher in question might as well have just taken their money and set fire to it. I’ll leave it there for the moment.

Cashley 8.93

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Filed under: Publishing

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