The Washington Post

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s upcoming memoir priced at $40

(Courtesy of Simon & Schuster) (Courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

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.


Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.

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