Looking over the Simon & Schuster catalogue Wednesday with Cary Goldstein, the executive director of publicity, I was struck by one unusual detail about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s upcoming memoir: It will be released on June 1 for $40.
Clinton’s previous memoir, “Living History,” sold for a mere $28. But that was 10 years ago.
A more meaningful comparison might be Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the bestseller that Simon & Schuster published last fall for $35. Indeed, for a long time, $35 seemed like the standard high-end price for Popular Important Books.
Despite the extended period of low inflation we’ve been enjoying, it looks like 40 is the new 35. Once again, Hillary is a trailblazer.
Of course, online retailers are already discounting pre-sales, so many customers will pay nothing close to $40. Barnes & Noble offers Clinton’s memoir for $26.65, while Amazon is charging $26.39. But sticker prices affect discount prices on down the line. It will be interesting to see how many other Popular Important Books reach for that $40 price point next year. (I’m excluding art and photography books and other books with expensive design features.)
Ever-higher retail prices for nonfiction blockbusters may be driven by ever-higher costs. Washington super-lawyer Robert Barnett negotiated Clinton’s book contract with Simon & Schuster earlier this year. (He won her an $8-million deal for “Living History” — a lot, sure, but little more than half of the $15 million he got for Bill Clinton’s 2005 memoir “My Life.”)
We still don’t know the title of Clinton’s upcoming book, nor her plans for a presidential run, but it’s already safe to predict that her new memoir will be a bestseller — at any price.