Is Hard Choices a “bomb”?

posted at 8:01 am on June 17, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

It depends on the definition of “bomb.” First-week sales for Hillary Clinton’s memoir/campaign book Hard Choices would not embarrass most authors; 60,000 hard-bound and 24,000 electronic outsells most other titles offered even by major publishers in a first printing. However, most authors don’t get $14 million advances, and most authors don’t plan to use their book as a springboard into a presidential campaign either.

In those circumstances, Daniel Halper argues, the sales have been, er, brutal:

“Between us, they are nervous at S&S [Simon & Schuster],” says the source, who gave permission for his email to be published. “Sales were well below expectations and the media was a disaster.”

According to this source, a Simon & Schuster insider, “They sold 60,000 hard covers first week and 24,000 ebooks.” The publishing house was “hoping and praying for 150,000 print first week.”

“The 60k represents a less than 10% sell thru based on what they shipped,” says the source.

It’s been reported that one million copies of Clinton’s book were shipped weeks before the June 10 publication date. “They will be lucky to sell 150,000 total lifetime,” the source writes in the email.

Barnes & Noble sold 24,000 of the hard copies in their chain the first week, making it the top seller in their inventory:

Hillary Clinton’s new memoir, Hard Choices, topped the Barnes & Noble best-seller list in its first week, according to the company’s Nielsen BookScan sales numbers released to publishers on Monday and obtained by BuzzFeed.

Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest retail bookseller, has sold just over 24,000 copies of the book since its release on June 10. Hard Choices debuted at No. 1 on the bookseller’s hardcover best-seller list, which includes fiction and nonfiction.

That’s not bad news, but the comparison to #2 isn’t exactly complimentary:

Clinton’s memoir edged out the new Diana Gabaldon book, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, for the top spot, selling just 319 more copies, according to the sales list. (The Gabaldon book, released on the same day as Clinton’s, is the eighth installment in her long-running historical sci-fi romance Outlander series.)

As of this morning, Clinton’s memoir topped Amazon’s lists for women’s studies, US history, and political memoirs — not exactly the stuff of mass-marketing success. It only ranked 70th in the paid Kindle section, though, where Gabaldon’s book is ranked 12th. It’s marked with a down arrow this morning, which doesn’t exactly suggest big momentum gathering for the tome. Still, Amazon does not share its actual book sales figures, so it’s difficult to tell without a subscription to one of the sales-measuring services just how many units they’ve moved.

These would be respectable and even thrilling numbers for most authors, but as noted above, Simon & Schuster spent nearly $14 million to get the publishing rights to the book. Even assuming that they get $10 profit from each copy (hard or Kindle), they’ve only recouped 6% of the cost of that bonus on the first week. Perhaps this is more a measure of how insane it was to spend $14 million up front to publish what turned out to be a milquetoast campaign book more than a commentary on the book itself, but either way S&S is going to take a bath on it.

That’s Simon & Schuster’s problem, of course, but Hillary has bigger problems. The real sales job wasn’t the book itself but Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate. The lack of enthusiasm for the book in its sales figures hurts the perception of Hillary, but nowhere nearly as badly as Hillary herself has damaged it over the past eight days. She has made gaffe after gaffe, underscored her lack of accomplishment at State, and provided no real answers on how she would govern. Indeed, her book and her testimony on the tour the past week has raised a lot more questions about her leadership and her honesty than it answered.

So the book sales may be a flop, but the bigger flop is Candidate Hillary. Even a boost in book sales wouldn’t fix that.


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Hillary got paid over $100 a word for prose that few want to read.

So if the book doesn’t sell, what difference does it make?

Slick Willie’s coattails go a long way.

Steve Z on June 17, 2014 at 10:38 AM

I would have to agree with several commenters, this smells more like seed money. 14 million to a writer like JK Rowling would make sense, she has a track record of bringing larger sales and therefore big money. Hillary, she can’t even point to a record as SecState. But I hear she can hurl a mean book at the back of secret service agents, as well as lamps.

TQM38a on June 17, 2014 at 10:39 AM

I wouldn’t listen to her bullshit even if I could arrange to have the book read to me by a 21 year old Swede named Sven. You know, blonde hair, wide shoulders, narrow waist; I would sit on his lap…. Nope, not even then.

Cottonpony on June 17, 2014 at 10:45 AM

I will wait for it when it shows up in my neighborhood trash dumpster.

Krupnikas on June 17, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Hey, maybe the $14 million is not really an advance, but a campaign contribution. Or you could call it protection money.

foredeck on June 17, 2014 at 10:46 AM

this is just one more way of keeping her name in the public eye so the dullards will be sure to recognize it when time comes to vote.

fatherspledge on June 17, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Maybe partly that. But look at Slick…legacy building? I can read his book any time I want (unfortunately my wife has a copy here…eye roll). I am pretty sure since I don’t like the man, I wouldn’t like his book, either. I could read reviews, but I am also pretty sure that the ‘tards would write glowing reviews and the cons would hate it…so there is no way to judge My Life on its overall, objective quality.

I can only imagine that it will be an inconsequential book once his voters have died off.

So, I think My Life was mostly about the money…and somewhat about his huge ego. But would he have written it if he had to self-publish it?

As for Shrillary, I think it’s much more about the money.

In both cases, it’s also about the prestige of having been a published author. In Shrillary’s case that makes more sense from the campaigning/name recognition standpoint as she can still seek office. I suppose Slick could, technically, but was/is not likely to.

As I’ve said above, no one would be interested in what these two wrote about their lives if they weren’t who they are…well-known politicians. To be fair, I can say the same thing about Sarah Palin’s books.

I am always suspicious about the quality of any work that is based upon a person’s fame gained in an arena other than that of literature. The best writers are generally those who make their name in writing…surely there are exceptions, Winston Churchill, for example.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 17, 2014 at 10:52 AM

h bomb. :(

ThisIsYourBrainOnKoch on June 17, 2014 at 10:52 AM

h bomb. :(

ThisIsYourBrainOnKoch on June 17, 2014 at 10:52 AM

d bag………..

VegasRick on June 17, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Killery should have just called her book “Lying Through My Teeth – There’s Nothing of Value In Here”. At least she would have told the truth, for once.

Cherokee on June 17, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Why would anyone want to read a ghost written book full of half-truths and lies?

zoyclem on June 17, 2014 at 11:27 AM

A 14 million dollar advance is prima facie absurd. I can’t think of any non-fiction author right now who could earn out that kind of advance. You’d have to sell around 3.5 million copies to earn 14 million in royalties. It was totally a gift to Hillary from Simon & Schuster.

will77jeff on June 17, 2014 at 11:30 AM

You were WAY too nice in your analysis of the sales numbers. If Hard Choices only sold that 84,000 copies you mention, each would need to sell for $167.00 just to cover Mrs. Clinton’s advance. Add in editing, materials, shipping to stores, etc and this looks suspiciously like an undeclared $14 million campaign contribution.

OrgSports on June 17, 2014 at 11:32 AM

I would wager that nearly all copies were purchased by journalists.

kozmocostello on June 17, 2014 at 11:48 AM

So now Hillary is “Da Bomb”?

Newtie and the Beauty on June 17, 2014 at 11:48 AM

I’d be interested to know what percentage of the hardcover sales were to libraries. I’d bet just about every library bought a copy, or several–because librarians are (ahem) her natural constituency, they aren’t spending their own money on it, and–most importantly–they can feel good about displaying the book prominently, but they don’t have to read the damned thing.

shoutingboy on June 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM

These would be respectable and even thrilling numbers for most authors, but as noted above, Simon & Schuster spent nearly $14 million to get the publishing rights to the book.

S&S weren’t expecting to make money with this book. It’s simply a payoff in case Hillary! becomes president, to keep the federal government off the publishing industry’s back.

rbj on June 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Yes, it’s a scam. A way to throw money at your favorite candidate.

Remember that just before taking the oath, Barry was thrown a cool half-million to write a “childrens’ book”. Did it even make it onto the shelves? If it did, has Barry even read it?

slickwillie2001 on June 17, 2014 at 11:51 AM

I’d be interested to know what percentage of the hardcover sales were to libraries. I’d bet just about every library bought a copy, or several–because librarians are (ahem) her natural constituency, they aren’t spending their own money on it, and–most importantly–they can feel good about displaying the book prominently, but they don’t have to read the damned thing.

shoutingboy on June 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Of that 60,000, many were bought by Herself’s campaign to be used as gifts to donors, -”donate just $100 to Hillary and you get a signed book.”

They are probably piled up in the basement in Chappaqua, or the library/massage parlor in Arkansas.

slickwillie2001 on June 17, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Politico: Will The ‘Real Hillary’ Please Just STFU Already?

Resist We Much on June 17, 2014 at 11:28 AM

The more people see and hear Hildabeast the more they dislike her. This has ALWAYS been true.

She just isn’t likable.

ConstantineXI on June 17, 2014 at 12:16 PM

All I can say is that there must be a few real “braintrusts” at Simon and Schuster! Either that, or blind, stupid, liberals.

ultracon on June 17, 2014 at 12:31 PM

To quote my Dad, “If bull$hit were a brass band, that woman would have her own parade.”

trigon on June 17, 2014 at 12:39 PM

There is a reason the title is not ‘Hard Truths’.

maryo on June 17, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Of that 60,000, many were bought by Herself’s campaign to be used as gifts to donors, -”donate just $100 to Hillary and you get a signed book.”

They are probably piled up in the basement in Chappaqua, or the library/massage parlor in Arkansas.

slickwillie2001 on June 17, 2014 at 12:09 PM

No question, with these political books, only a wonk reads them and they get air-time in relation to their political relevance.

Her campaign is probably the #1 buyer. Of course, that money comes from donors not out of the advance, which Hillary needed to pull her out of the financial ruin of her selfless first-ladyship and charity stint in the Senate. Finally, she could pay back some of those college loans and fix up that ol’ car.

virgo on June 17, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Still, Sir Edmund Hillary would be proud.

Pythagoras on June 17, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Ann Coulter in her book “Slander” nailed it long ago when she noted that the book publishing industry is basically nothing more than a massive enrichment industry for liberals.

$14 million in advance for a book that everybody had to know in advance would be a stinkeroo proves this.

Spurius Ligustinus on June 17, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Hitlary’s book will be in the 99¢ bin at the Dollar Store before long. It should be shelved in the fiction section.

pdigaudio on June 17, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Can’t wait to see what kind of advance Obama gets for his White House memoir? 20 million maybe?

will77jeff on June 17, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Can’t wait to see what kind of advance Obama gets for his White House memoir? 20 million maybe?

will77jeff on June 17, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Will Bill Ayers be given credit finally this time?

slickwillie2001 on June 17, 2014 at 5:14 PM

Still, Sir Edmund Hillary would be proud.

Pythagoras on June 17, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Still can’t believe she said such a stupid thing. But then again, she figured no one would ever call her on it.

The year Hillary was born, Ed climbed his first “big” mountain, the highest peak in his native New Zealand. He wouldn’t summit Everest until she was 6 years old.

Del Dolemonte on June 17, 2014 at 5:27 PM

The year Hillary was born, Ed climbed his first “big” mountain, the highest peak in his native New Zealand. He wouldn’t summit Everest until she was 6 years old.

Del Dolemonte on June 17, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Ohhh! Enough with the Hillary Hate! It’s because her parents knew that Hillary was going to be a child of destiny that they decided to name her after an unknown man of destiny.

They just didn’t know that Hillary was going end up having more facial hair than Sir Edmund.

dreadnought62 on June 18, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Personally, I can’t wait to buy the book when it crashes at $1. I’ll put it right next to the “Obama 2012″ cap I bought for a buck on the Atlantic City boardwalk last month.

BigAlSouth on June 18, 2014 at 12:34 PM

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