A spare heir is garnering copious spare cash. Prince Harry’s memoir shifted 400,000 copies on its first day in UK shops. That takes the disgruntled royal into the same bracket as another famous literary Harry.
The Prince’s book Spare was produced with ghost writer J.R. Moehringer, who has also written biographies of Andre Agassi, Nike co-founder Phil Knight and bank robber Willie Sutton. It has broken non-fiction records worldwide, having sold more than 1.4mn English-language copies in all formats in the US, the U.K. and Canada.
But in a bookselling duel, Harry Potter has the advantage. Fiction sells better than non fiction — especially in the age of #booktok, the TikTok hashtag. This helped drive Colleen Hoover books for young adults to recent top spots on UK and US charts.
The teenage wizard’s appeal grew with time. Prince Harry will hope for the same. There is speculation he has a four-book deal with publisher Penguin Random House. But it is hard to imagine what other revelations he can still divulge.
Penguin Random House reportedly paid the prince a $20mn advance. The blockbuster could well earn much more than that.
For an idea of the economics involved, consider that the book is currently selling at £14 on Amazon UK, a 50 per cent discount to the recommended retail price. It is not clear what Amazon is paying the publisher, but at a 60 per cent discount it might equate to £11.20 per copy.
From that revenue, Penguin Random House would need to pay printing and distribution costs, perhaps something like £4 per unit. Another £4 might be author royalties — typically 10-15 per cent of the cover price, less with bigger discounts. But these would only usually be paid after the prince earns back his advance.
On these assumptions, the publisher would initially make £7.20 per copy, meaning it would have to sell 2.3mn books to recoup its advance. That calculation does not include the $1mn reportedly paid to the ghost writer.
These are very rough figures, relating to one channel only. In reality, the book is being sold worldwide and in multiple languages and formats.
But the numbers serve to highlight that PRH has done very nicely. So has the former HRH. Roll on Harry and Meghan recipe books and keep-fit manuals.
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