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April 23, 2019, 10:59 a.m.
Business Models

Three editions of the Mueller Report are Amazon bestsellers. How do they stack up?

News organizations, book publishers, and even self-publishers with quick trigger fingers are all competing to squeeze the most value out of a PDF anyone can download for free.

The No. 1 book on Amazon right now is The Washington Post’s edition of The Mueller Report, which will be released in paperback by Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner on April 24. You can buy the Kindle edition for $7.99 now, but more people are waiting for the print version — it’s in the top slot for print books, while the ebook is “only” No. 15 in the Kindle Store.

The Washington Post and Simon & Schuster are certainly not the only publishers that want to make money off the public domain report, and the Washington Post edition isn’t even the only one on Amazon’s bestseller list. How do they differentiate? The Washington Post edition contains analysis from Post reporters (who of course work for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos). But if for some reason you’d like an alternative (I mean, an alternative in book form; the Mueller Report is also, of course, free to read online here or at any of a zillion news sites and other places), there’s also Skyhorse Publishing’s edition, which is at No. 3 on Amazon’s bestselling print list. (The value-add on that one is an introduction by Alan Dershowitz.)

Finally, there’s Melville House’s edition of the report, which is in the #6 slot on the list and contains “THE REPORT AND NOTHING BUT THE REPORT: presented as released by the Attorney General of the United States, with no positioning or framing apparatus — such as a celebrity introduction — that would give it bias or impede its clarity.” As of Tuesday morning, this was in the #6 slot. Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson has been tweeting about the book’s production in a delightful thread here.

There are also a host of other Mueller Reports for sale, and while traditional publishers have the edge, a self-published edition of the report was #47 on Amazon’s bestseller list as of Tuesday morning. This one has the benefit of being available in print right now, but that’s because it’s simply a print-on-demand version of the PDF instead of being typeset, and according to a customer review it looks like this:

Meanwhile, here in Cambridge, the print-on-demand Espresso Book Machine at the Harvard Book Store — a.k.a. Paige M. Gutenborg — is working away.

POSTED     April 23, 2019, 10:59 a.m.
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