It is said that publishing is a form of immortality, so for an author, seeing a book on the remainder table is a form of death. That’s what’s happening to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s memoir, The Governor, though.
According to the Los Angeles Times: Blagojevich's memoir is already serving its own sentence -- on remainder tables. "The Governor" was published by Phoenix Books in 2009 with a cover price of $24.95. Now you can get it new from Amazon resellers for $2.80. And used? Five retailers list it for just 1 penny (plus shipping).
The remainder table is that literary discard bin for books that didn’t sell out their press run and are now available for pennies on the dollar, as booksellers attempt to cut their losses. Blagojevich signed a six-figure contract with Phoenix, but sales obviously haven’t earned back that advance.
Blagojevich can take heart from this, though: Barack Obama was once remaindered too.
In the early 2000s, Jim Reynolds, an East Bank Club basketball buddy of Obama’s, picked up Dreams from My Father for a few bucks at Borders.
At the time, there wasn’t much of a market for a family memoir by a Midwestern state legislator – even one who’d been president of the Harvard Law Review. After Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the book became a best seller.
Last year, Obama earned $1.7 million in royalties for Dreams and The Audacity of Hope. Political books are rarely memorable literature, so their fortunes rise and fall on the fortunes of the author. And right now, no one would pay a penny to be Rod Blagojevich.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President, is available at Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!