“Hard Choices” = Hard Sell

Hillary Clinton appears to be experiencing a gap between her enthusiasm for high office and the public’s enthusiasm for her. For its part, the public may already be suffering from Hillary fatigue. For example, at Clinton’s appearance for a “town hall” meeting, CNN felt the need to deploy a stage director who coached the audience to applaud at various points throughout the broadcast.

The town hall meeting was part of Clinton’s ceaseless effort to promote her book, Hard Choices. That effort, in turn, is designed to promote her presidential prospects.

But despite Clinton’s efforts, book sales aren’t living up to expectations. In fact, according to the New York Times, the book isn’t likely to make enough money to cover Clinton’s advance:

Sales of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new memoir, “Hard Choices,” declined 43.5 percent to 48,000 copies in its second week on the shelves, according to Nielsen BookScan.

The sales figures put pressure on the publisher, Simon & Schuster, which paid Mrs. Clinton a multimillion-dollar advance to write about her time at the State Department and has invested heavily in the book’s rollout, one of the biggest of the year.

First week sales weren’t so hot either:

About 85,000 copies were sold in the week after the book’s June 10 release, according to BookScan, a subscription service that tracks sales at over 80 percent of book vendors in the United States. Those figures do not include e-books, which increased sales by about 15 percent, to roughly 100,000 electronic and hardcover copies.

First-week sales typically account for about 30 percent of the total, thanks to the publicity blitzes that accompany publishers’ biggest releases. That means “Hard Choices” could fall far short of the one million copies that Simon & Schuster shipped to bookstores, industry executives said. (Publishers sell books on consignment and must take back copies that do not sell in the stores.)

And now, with the sharp decline during the second week, the Times perceives a serious risk that sales won’t cover the advance. Her advance reportedly was in the neighborhood of $14 million.

That should keep the wolves away from the Clinton’s many doors.

The Times points out that Clinton’s book has sold better than memoirs by other former members of the Obama administration, including Timothy Geithner’s Stress Test and Robert Gates’ Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War. But, as the Times acknowledges, neither man is a potential presidential contender in 2016. Indeed, the combined enthusiasm quotient for these two public figures is roughly zero.

Hillary’s 2003 memoir, Living History, about her years in the White House, sold about six times as many copies in its first week as Hard Choices. Back then, Hillary fatigue hadn’t set in.

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