There’s a brawl shaping up between two books about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The New York Times says sales of the governor’s memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” have evaporated. In October, Crown reportedly printed about 450,000 copies of “American Crisis,” but by the end of February it had sold only about 46,000. With the governor battered by accusations of sexual harassment and claims that he suppressed data on nursing home deaths related to covid-19, few readers seem eager to hear Cuomo brag about his administrative prowess. Crown has “paused” marketing for “American Crisis” and has no plans for a paperback edition.

The indie publisher OR Books smells blood in the water. It’s rushing to release an exposé called “The Prince: Andrew Cuomo, Coronavirus, and the Fall of New York,” by journalist Ross Barkan. The marketing campaign places Cuomo’s memoir right beside Barkan’s book: “Not Available in Paperback” vs. “Soon Available in Paperback.”

OR publisher Colin Robinson tells me, “No response from Cuomo yet, but we will certainly be sending a copy to him.” This is just the kind of situation Robinson’s nimble firm is designed to exploit. OR promotes its books heavily online, sells directly to readers and prints on demand. The publisher has already taken “lots of pre-orders” and plans to get copies out the door in a few weeks. “It’s not just that we’re quick,” Robinson says. “We can also take chances that larger, more staid houses would shy away from, especially when it comes to aiming fire at powerful figures like Andrew Cuomo.”

The Machiavellian cover of “The Prince” gives a good indication of Robinson’s wry sensibilities. He notes with a certain glee that OR’s first book back in 2009 was a reply to Sarah Palin’s memoir “Going Rogue” called “Going Rouge.” The cover caused such confusion that Fox accidentally showed OR’s parody instead of Palin’s memoir during a story about the former Alaskan governor. “Bliss,” Robinson sighs.

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