Friday, November 27, 2020

How Come Authors Starve While Obama Charges $45 For His Book?



Book publishing is a tale of two worlds, one where a handful of celebrity authors make millions and the rest earn diner money. Can the book industry survive this way?

Former President Barack Obama, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace and brought America out of The Great Recession, has come out with a book that in its first week equaled the combined sales of the memoirs of his two predecessors. He has already sold 1.7 million book units — ebooks, audiobooks and hardcovers — in just a week since being released. The cover price for his book? 45 freakin’ dollars!!

I am not sure who deserves blame here, but it pisses me off that such a price tag is attached to this book.

Is it the fault of consumers, who want the book so badly, that they will blindly pay any price for it?

Is it Obama’s fault, for demanding such a fat advance from his publisher, that it has no choice but to rip off consumers?

Is it the fault of the publisher, for seeking to exploit hungry consumers to make a buck?

Is there something inherently wrong with the process of capitalism that even during a pandemic and depressed economy, with tens of millions out of work and on the dole, that a book can be sold for a good 50 percent more than most books?

On the other hand, if you don’t want or can’t afford the book, don’t buy it. Something is worth what people are willing to spend, right?

But if books are to be accessible, they must be affordable. However, artists do not need to starve. The majority of authors do not make shit, many of them failing to exceed 1,000 copies sold. Some give away more books than they sell. Both ends of the spectrum should be concerned, even disgusted by this.

Publishers often make money from a handful of best-sellers while the majority of their list barely breaks even. So, from that perspective, high-priced books like Obama’s save the industry. Still, it seems criminal that a one-time public servant sells his story for tens of millions. Books must remain affordable to all — or the industry collapses.

Schools or libraries that want to buy copies are using up limited budgets to do so. The people he hopes to inspire and educate may not be able to afford his book. What happens then? Some people get to read affordable, less important books — and some have access to his tome. Talk about a great divide.

All of this may not matter. By next year President Donald Trump could put out a fifty-dollar book. In fact, you can count on it.


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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at  You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: 

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