Embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book celebrating his response to the COVID-19 pandemic fetched a seven-figure advance – as publishers sought to capitalize on “another political star,” according to a new report.
Crown Publishing Group, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House, initiated the lucrative deal with Cuomo — whose popularity surged during the public health crisis, a source told Vanity Fair.
Crown executive editor Libby Burton approached Cuomo’s literary rep, Robert Barnett, who brokered the Obamas’ book deal with Penguin Random House, the source said.
That led to Burton and Crown Editor in Chief Gillian Blake jointly acquiring the title, the magazine reported.
“They had published Stacey Abrams together at Holt, and thought they had identified another political star,” the source said.
But in another version of the backstory, Barnett was the one who conjured up the idea and presented it to Crown — and possibly also other publishers.
Cuomo has declined to reveal how much he got for his tome, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” saying in August, “You’ll see it on my financial disclosure,” the deadline for which is May 15.
But sources familiar with the deal have said it sold for at least low to mid-seven figures — a blockbuster amount by industry standards, the mag reported.
The governor has said he would donate a portion of his take to an unspecified coronavirus-related charity, it added.
Amid a federal probe into the state’s handling of the outbreak in nursing homes, Crown has paused the promotion of Cuomo’s book, publisher Gillian Blake told The New York Times.
Sales for Cuomo’s book, which debuted on October 13, have also tanked amid mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against him, Vanity Fair reported.
As of the week ending February 27, “American Crisis” totaled 45,800 print sales, according to NPD BookScan.
“We can confirm that the title’s sales have dropped in the last five weeks, and for context, this is not reflective of a larger market trend,” a BookScan rep told the magazine.
Joe Pompeo, the reporter behind Vanity Fair’s report, said spokespersons for Penguin Random House “ghosted” his email inquiries.
Barnett, who would neither confirm nor deny the report, directed Pompeo to the governor’s office, which has not returned emails.
Cuomo and his administration have faced allegations of purposefully withholding the number of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19.
Top aides to the governor last summer successfully pushed health officials to leave out in a July report the number of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 in hospitals, undercounting the true death toll at the time by roughly 3,500, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
The state sat on the more complete data for nearly eight months — only releasing it after a damning state attorney general report — and under court order.