97 bucks per death: Cuomo in line to earn a cool $5 million from weak-selling memoir about his COVID "leadership"

97 bucks per death: Cuomo in line to earn a cool $5 million from weak-selling memoir about his COVID "leadership"
AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool

It’s $97.30 per death, to be precise. A total of 52,417 New Yorkers have died from COVID while Cuomo has already raked in $3.1 million for his book and stands to earn another $2 million under his deal with Crown Publishing.

His state is second nationally in deaths per capita, behind only its neighbor New Jersey.

This is like paying the mayor in “Jaws” $5 million for a book on how to fight sharks.

If, that is, the mayor in “Jaws” was also juggling like five other scandals besides his terrible shark-fighting performance, including covering up the number of senior citizens eaten by sharks and recruiting his government staff to work on the book about shark-fighting.

Oh, and all the while seemingly sexually harassing half the women around him.

Anyway, watching Crown get soaked for its part in pushing the myth of Cuomo as some hero of the pandemic is gratifying.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reported earning $3.12 million last year from his memoir about leading New York during the coronavirus pandemic, according to figures obtained by The New York Times and set to be released publicly on Monday. State officials said his contract for the book also included another $2 million to be paid over the next two years…

The publisher canceled promotion and any plans for a paperback version in March, after The Times reported that Mr. Cuomo’s most senior aides had rewritten a state Health Department report on nursing home fatalities to hide the number of actual deaths, just as Mr. Cuomo was starting to write his book. The handling of that data is currently the subject of a federal investigation…

Crown’s announcement that it would not release the paperback edition raised the question of whether the publisher, a division of Penguin Random House, will pay out the governor’s full advance…

Sales for “American Crisis” have been anemic, with just around 50,000 hardcover copies sold, according to NPD BookScan — not nearly enough for Crown to recover its investment. Mr. Cuomo’s office reported Monday that he made a $500,000 contribution from the book’s proceeds to the United Way for efforts related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Assuming they pay him the full $5 million, and assuming further that sales don’t inexplicably take off now that his reputation’s ruined, Cuomo’s going to end up earning a little north of … $100 per copy. Congrats to Crown on that sweet deal.

In fact, a deal that sweet might warrant a bit of investigation itself:

Did Crown really think it was going to make enough from Cuomo’s book to justify a mind-boggling $5 million advance? Dave Weigel speculates that the company may have reasoned that Cuomo’s book would be as big of a hit as Rudy Giuliani’s book after 9/11, which isn’t a crazy thing to have believed at the height of Cuomomania last year. Democrats clearly looked to Cuomo’s daily briefings early in the pandemic as a more sober, seemingly competent alternative to Trump and his administration. Crown may have gambled that Cuomo’s book would become a smash hit of Trump-era Resistance polemics, a lesson in what New York supposedly did right and the federal government didn’t.

That gamble … did not pay off. For Crown, I mean. For Cuomo, it made him a stunningly successful pandemic profiteer. So much so that we’re left to wonder if his fabulously generous advance was part of the motive for covering up nursing-home deaths in New York. Five million bucks for a book about the awesomeness of your COVID leadership is a pretty strong reason hide the evidence of how weak that leadership actually was.

Even lefties are suspicious about the math here:

I’m tempted to wonder if Crown has or expects to have some sort of business before New York State in which the governor being well-disposed to them could matter. But even in that case, there had to be more cost-effective ways to bribe Cuomo. Send a hundred thousand dollars to his Super PAC or whatever. What the hell were they thinking?

Look at it this way, though: Compared with Cuomo’s previous book, Crown got a bargain. His 2014 memoir sold a grand total of 3,800 copies but earned him a $783,000 advance, good for $206 per copy. Crown’s paying him half that rate. It’s a steal!

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