With Bernie Madoff behind bars, books about the Wall Street swindler are starting to land in bookstores. Four major titles are coming out this month, and another is slated for September. Two questions linger, though: Are consumers still interested in Madoff? And if so, which book will they want to read?
Borders is putting its muscle behind Too Good to Be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff by Erin Arvedlund, which Portfolio published last week. Adrian Zackheim bought the book by financial journalist Arvedlund in January. Arvedlund's May 2001 Barron's article was one of the first to ask tough questions about Madoff's surprising results and unusual practices. Borders spokesperson Mary Davis said the chain is placing it in front of store. David Hathaway, buyer for Barnes & Noble, said the retailer has also ordered Too Good to Be True and that it is “starting to sell.”
The chains are also all selling Madoff with the Money (Wiley) by Jerry Oppenheimer, who dug up dirt on Mattel in Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel and on Martha Stewart in Just Desserts: Martha Stewart: The Unauthorized Biography. Betrayal: The Life and Lies of Bernie Madoff (Harper) by former NY1 and CBS political reporter Andrew Kirtzman is the third title already on store shelves. Madoff's Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie, and Me goes on sale from St. Martin's August 25 and is authored by Sheryl Weinstein, who testified against Madoff at his trial; she had an affair with Madoff and her company reportedly lost millions in the Ponzi scheme. Hathaway said Other Secret “takes a darker approach, with revelations not discussed in the first three books.” In late September, Hyperion will publish The Madoff Chronicles by ABC News reporter Brian Ross.
Since the books will get media attention—Friday's New York Times ran a long story featuring Weinstein's book—Borders's Davis thinks there will be customer interest in the titles, but perhaps some confusion as well. “There are so many coming out that customers may not know what to get; they'll just know there are Madoff books available,” she said. B&N's Hathaway expects interest, too. “All of these books will have major media coverage and as new details continue to emerge about the possible involvement of other individuals, there will be continued interest in this scandal,” Hathaway said. “It's too early to tell if customers will buy several of these titles or if they will buy the one that piques their curiosity the most.”
This fall won't see the end of the Madoff books. Times Books has signed up New York Times financial reporter Diana Henriques's book about the scandal, although it has not yet scheduled a pub date. And Hyperion imprint Voice plans to release an account by former Self editor Alexandra Penney based on her “Bag Lady” Daily Beast blog, about learning to live without all the money she lost in the Madoff fraud.