Back in 2014, I wrote this over the news that Andrew Cuomo would be paid $700,000 for a book he was supposed to write for HarperCollins, the Rupert Murdoch/News Corporation-owned publisher:
How many copies of this book do you think Harper Collins sells?
Do they think there's a readership out there for Andrew Cuomo's memoir?
Or maybe they think fans of Chris Cuomo will buy it?
Andrew Cuomo has the reputation for being one of the biggest asses in politics.
I can't imagine the book sells more than a few thousand copies at best.
So why did Murdoch give Cuomo at least $700,000 in compensation for this memoir?
Notice when the contract with Harper Collins was signed - right after his first year in office.
That was when Cuomo and Harper Collins Rupert Murdoch were still best buds (as demonstrated by how Murdoch flack Fred Dicker treated Cuomo in the NY Post.)
Even then, Murdoch had to know that few copies of this book would be sold.
This was a bribe from Murdoch to Cuomo in the form of a book contract.
I can't wait for the book to come out and see how many copies get sold.
I suspect this Cuomo memoir will be up there as a loss-leader, along with Murdoch's other great loss leader, the NY Post.
Then, when it was revealed that HarperCollins was going to run 200,000 copies foe the first printing, I wrote this:
A 200,000-copy first run?
Just who is Harper Collins (owned by Rupert Murdoch, btw) planning to sell this book to?
Let's assume Cuomo's family, friends and loved ones buy some copies.
Let's assume too that suck-ups who work for him buy some.
Let's assume Billy Joel takes $30 out of his drinking fund and buys a copy too.
And let's assume Cuomo's consort, Sandra Lee, forces people in her coterie to plunk down the money for the book to try and drive some numbers.
How many copies sold is that?
Now I've been watching the Hillary Clinton book sales closely, because she got a huge printing for her book too - much bigger than Sheriff Andy got actually, and her sales have not been too good.
Here's Politico on June 17:
Officials with Hillary Clinton’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, insist her book has fared well amid reports of weak sales, and that it’s succeeded despite a dramatically altered retail landscape since her last memoir.
The book sold roughly 100,000 copies from the Tuesday when it was released through the following Saturday, according to a Simon & Schuster source. The source added that the book, titled “Hard Choices,” is debuting at No. 1 on the Indie Bestseller List, which reflects sales at independent bookstores.
The 100,000 figure for “Hard Choices” includes pre-orders and e-books, the publishing sources said. Those figures get rolled into the first-day sales.
The New York Times best-seller list, which will be released Wednesday, is another metric people are watching to see how the memoir is faring.
The first 1 million copies printed of the book were pre-ordered by bookstores, although that figure does not reflect how many were bought by customers.
People close to Clintonland also said the market for books has changed greatly since “Living History,” noting the closure of several hundred Borders bookstores and dozens of Barnes & Noble outlets.
Not a great start for a book that got a $14 million advance.
And it's gotten worse since:
There’s hand-wringing and finger-pointing at Simon & Schuster over the soft performance of Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices,” for which she got a $14 million advance, sources said — and which was replaced at No. 1 on the best-seller list this week by an “exposé” about Hillary and Bill Clinton.
The former secretary of state’s tome sold 161,000 copies in its first three weeks, according to Nielsen BookScan — but 85,000 of those were sold in the first week. That number has dropped sharply to 48,000 and 28,000 in subsequent weeks, with the most recent numbers due out Wednesday.
Simon & Schuster shipped an optimistic 1 million copies to stores. Hillary reportedly got $8 million for her last book for the publisher, “Living History,” which sold 438,000 copies in its first week and more than 1.15 million overall.
Adding insult to injury, the new book was pushed from the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list this week by Edward Klein’s story of the Clintons’ pained relationship with Barack and Michelle Obama, “Blood Feud.” A source close to Hillary has blasted the book, along with its author, as “dastardly” and a combination of “pathological lying, hate and just flat-out creepiness.”
“There’s lots of finger-pointing going on at Simon & Schuster” over the very expensive Clinton deal, a source told Page Six.
Another insider said sales of 161,000 for “Hard Choices” would be “OK” for a normal book without such a big advance and expectations. “It’s an OK number — it’s very solid — a good amount to sell in three weeks,” the source said. “And the book is $35, significantly higher than most.” Also, BookScan only measures 85 percent of the print market, and not e-books.
A rep for Simon & Schuster did not respond to a request for comment. Reports have said the early numbers for “Hard Choices” reflect that it will not sell enough to cover Clinton’s advance, or to sell the million copies shipped, which are sent on consignment, with unsold copies ultimately going back to the publisher.
Now that's the Murdoch-owned NY Post ragging on Simon & Schuster for the absurd $14 million advance they handed Clinton for a book that not too many people planned on buying.
But the Murdoch-owned Harper Collins is likely going to have a mini-disaster on its own hands with the Cuomo book, because it's hard to see how if Hillary Clinton could only sell 161,000 copies of "Hard Choices," Andrew Cuomo is going to sell 200,000 first-run copies of “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life.”
Now I dunno, maybe all the Chris Cuomo groupies out there go out and buy the book and make me eat my words, but I just have a difficult time seeing the $700,000 advance and the 200,000-copy first run printing from Murdoch's Harper Collins as anything other than payback for Cuomo's corporate-friendly policies as governor, in particular Cuomo's pro-charter policies which Murdoch loves.
Murdoch has long been known to use his media outlets to reward friends and punish enemies - he keeps the NY Post open and operating despite its losing hundreds of millions of dollars for just that purpose.
I can't see any business reason why Harper Collins would pay Cuomo $700,000 in advance for his book and print 200,000 copies in the first run other than paying him back for stuff Sheriff Andy did that Rupert liked.
So far, Cuomo has sold less than 3,000 books of the 200,000 copy first printing.
He's disclosed $188,000 in payments from HarperCollins on his finance forms, though we do not now whether he's going to get additional payments for the book despite the poor sales because he refuses to release the contract.
All of this matters because Cuomo is in the middle of taking on the legislature over ethics reform, including increased disclosure of lawmakers' outside incomes, while he refuses to be transparent on his own.
Cuomo says he doesn't have to disclose anything because he's not subject to the same kind of corruptive influences that legislators are - except that David Sirota at IBTimes reported on Wednesday that the Cuomo administration was lobbied on multiple issues by News Corporation both before and after Cuomo signed his $700,000 book contract with the News Corp-owned HarperCollins.
The book deal Cuomo got from News Corporation starts looking an awful lot like a quid pro quo arrangement and/or bribe from News Corporation to Cuomo when you see that the corporation got millions in tax breaks and other goodies out of Cuomo.
How is that different than former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, now under indictment for corruption, taking bribes and kickbacks?
NT2 says it's not in their latest post called "Monetizing The Office":
“Shelly was paid 700k and Andrew was paid 700k. What did they do for that money?”
“Silver facilitated referrals to a law firm and Cuomo wrote a book.”
“Both of them monetized their office.”
“Nah. That can’t be.”
“Really? Would Cuomo have got a book deal without being Governor? Of course not.
Nobody would read a book about him if he wasn’t Governor.”
“Well, nobody seems interested in the book anyway,” we quipped.
“Cuomo personally received $700,000 or more for doing what? He didn’t write that book. You know that. He’s politically smart, but he’s not a reader or a writer. His staff wrote the book for him and that’s another problem.”
“But lots of governors do the same thing.”
“And lots of legislators are rainmakers. You can make the case that Cuomo’s monetizing of the Governor’s office was more egregious than Silver’s because he used staff to do it and it produced less value.”
“Produced less value?”
“Silver received 700k, right? That was for generating referrals for the law firm. And what was the value of the referrals? If he got one mesothelioma case, it might have been worth 100k to the law firm. If he got two it was worth 200k. We don’t know how many referrals he generated. Maybe it was half a dozen. Maybe it was a hundred. But you know there was some value generated. Now think about Cuomo. He and his government staff produced a book that was worth what? Well, the book tanked. That means that Cuomo was paid $700,000 for nothing of value.”
“Isn’t this just a bad decision by the publisher? They thought his book would sell. They took the risk on it and they were wrong. That’s the nature of their business.”
“That’s true. But how did the book deal come together. Did he write it and show it to them. No. He got a huge advance and that advance looks like a sweetheart deal. He got a huge up front payment. He’s getting a cut rate on purchases of the book that he can then provide to his supporters for promotional purposes. He also benefits from the promotion of the book by the publisher. He’s making out like a bandit. He monetized his office, didn’t he?”
“When you say it like that, it’s hard to disagree.”
“And we haven’t even mentioned the other side of it. What benefits accrued to the publisher? How did News Corp. benefit? Nobody has looked at that. Nobody has gone back 10 years like Preet did with Silver. What did Cuomo do in office as AG or as Governor that benefitted News Corp. Silver directed a grant to a hospital for cancer research in 2005 and they called it a bribe in 2015. What did Cuomo do for News Corp during the last 10 years? I’ll bet you could find something, no?”
“This can’t be.”
“This is the world we live in. If Preet can make a case against Silver, he can make a case against Cuomo.”
I'm still skeptical that US Attorney Preet Bharara is going to do to Cuomo what he did to Silver, but it sure seems if Bharara decides to dig into Cuomo's business dealings with News Corporation, he'll find plenty of interesting items to scrutinize.
This News Corp/book deal stuff is in addition to the Moreland tampering that Preet is allegedly looking into already, as well as the subpoenas to donors that Cuomo's secretary, Larry Schwartz, had "pulled back" by the Moreland Commission even as they subpoenaed legislative targets.
Cuomo's pushing ethics reform this budget, claiming he'll shut the government down if the legislature doesn't give him what he wants on ethics reform (i.e., ethics reforms that pertain only to the legislature, not to statewide officials like the governor.)
Here's hoping the feds shut Cuomo himself down with a 7 AM visit and a car ride to central booking over all the criminality he's engaged in.
If they could get Silver on this stuff, you can bet they can get Cuomo too.
But will they?