Then Again, It Could Be Dan Brown’s Fault… Or Could It?


By Neal Comment

DD-logo.gifWe indulged ourselves in a bit of sarcasm yesterday when the NY Times raised the possibility that the recent layoffs at Doubleday might be Dan Brown‘s fault; our exact words being “Yes, we’re so sure Doubleday has been making ongoing financial projections for the last three years based on the possibility that Brown might finally turn in the manuscript of The Solomon Key.” This morning, though, somebody suggested to us that the publishing company might indeed have been dutifully mentioning the book in its budgets—although our source didn’t know whether that was in the form of projected earnings with a real number attached, or just a mention that “hey, if Dan gives us the manuscript, we can probably get it in stores within 90 days.” Or, for that matter, if it was true.

We have absolutely no idea whether it’s true, either, but even secondhand information gives us an opportunity to speculate—and it still seems to us that three years of expenditures based on the hypothetical revenue from a non-existent book would be no way to run a business. If we were going to propose reasons Doubleday decided it needed to save money, we would start by looking at more concrete factors, like the cost of building Spiegel & Grau‘s frontlist, long before it occurred to us that the company had been spending imaginary Dan Brown money since 2005. (Which, as we said back in 2007, is not a judgment on our part of S&G’s expenditures; in the same position, we might well have made the same financial decisions in order to acquire the same books… and feel that it’s too early to second-guess the strategy behind them… unless circumstances are really that drastic.)