Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Financial crisis report a doubtful bestseller

Janet Babin Jan 26, 2011
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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Financial crisis report a doubtful bestseller

Janet Babin Jan 26, 2011
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Kai Ryssdal: The next wannabe bestseller has all the right ingredients: greed, deception, nudity. Well, maybe some naked short-selling anyway.

“The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report” hits store shelves tomorrow. The 9/11 Commission report and others wound up actually being bestsellers. This one? A tougher sell, as Marketplace’s Janet Babin explains.


Janet Babin: Would you buy a book by these guys?

Audio clip: Welcome to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s website. I’m chairman Phila Angelides, and I’m Bill Thomas, vice chairman.

The affable tones of the commission members might not translate into a bestselling page turner. The first print run of the Commission’s report is just 25,000 copies in paperback.

But analyst Michael Norris at Simba Information says the book could become a hit.

Michael Norris: It’s probably going to do well, I see it’s already on 200 and something on Amazon’s bestseller rank and as word about it gets out, it might actually do much better than that.

The 9/11 Commission report became a bestseller, with more than a million copies purchased. Even the “Starr Report,” the investigative account of President Bill Clinton by independent counsel Kenneth Starr made bestseller lists. But this topic — starring characters like credit default swaps and collateral debt obligations — presents more of a challenge.

Marissa Gluck is a managing partner at Radar Research.

Marissa Gluck: The mismanagement of our financial system is a lot more complicated than whether or not Bill Clinton had sex with an intern.

And the book will face stiff competition: the financial crisis has already spawned a mini-industry of popular titles, from people who were closer to the drama than commission members were. If they want their work to be read, Gluck recommends the Commission members get themselves a top-notch publicist.

Gluck: You know the only way to really assure this is a bestseller is to have Glenn Beck flog it on his show. This may hold some appeal to a section of the Tea Party.

Or maybe Stephen Colbert has an opening.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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