The Daily Telegraph informs us this morning that David Blunkett has made more than £200,000 from his diaries. His publishers, Bloomsbury, saw fit to pay him £165,000 and he got £30,000 from Channel 4 and £5,000 from the Radio 4 serialisation (equivalent to 28 TV licenses). This doesn't include the serialisation on the Daily Mail or Guardian, which will add another six figure sum. And all for a book which has sold fewer than 1,500 copies.
I am sure Bloomsbury had their reasons for paying so much, but I'd love to know what they were. This is the economics of the publishing madhouse. In order for them to recoup their money they need to sell in excess of 50,000 copies. That is never going to happen. They'll be lucky to clear 5,000.
Having said that, I am quite looking forward to reading it. It's a massive 800 pages long so I suspect I shall keep it in the loo and dip into it - the book, that is. Ahem.
UPDATE: I am reliably informed that Blunkett will gross £450,000 from this book. Bloomsbury are keen to be big players in the memoir field so they splashed some Harry Potter cash on Blunkett as a loss leader. All I can say is they could have achieved their aim for a lot less dosh. All they had to do was ask...