A mysterious email has been going around to booksellers this week.
According to The New York Times, publishers Little, Brown & Co. have been advertising a book billed as "Untitled" by "Anonymous." The book has a November release date, a strict no-early-sales embargo, and lots of promised media coverage. The only clue offered as to its contents was that it is "“the inside story of life with one of the most controversial figures of our time.”
Booksellers were stumped – and annoyed. Who wants to take a shot in the dark by ordering copies of a book with an unknown author and an unknown subject and risk being left with hundreds of unsold books? On the other hand, no one wants to play it too safe and end up passing on a bestseller.
Yesterday a tantalizing piece of information was leaked. One of the book's two authors is listed as Catherine Hooper, otherwise known as the fiancée of Bernie Madoff's surviving estranged son Andrew. Suddenly, the book's content seemed much less mysterious.
Up until now, books about Bernie Madoff have not exactly been sales magnets. The books about Madoff written in the past year or two – and not surrounded by intriguing secrecy – did not sell well according to The Washington Post. Nor, for the most part, did they draw positive reviews. "What could be more insolent than the Bernie Madoff fraud?" asked The Wall Street Journal two years ago this month, as six Madoff books were arriving in bookstores. "How about a bunch of books that promise the inside scoop on the con artist's scam but fail to deliver the goods?"
However, "Untitled" – assuming Madoff really is its subject – is being written by someone with an insider's perspective on Madoff, his family, and perhaps even the inner workings of his company. Presumably it could offer at least a handful of revelations of interest.
So look forward – probably – to yet another Bernie Madoff book this fall, albeit one with a likely more personal slant. That is, unless Hooper has some other notorious friend to write a book about, in which case booksellers will really be stumped.
Megan Wasson is a Monitor contributor.