The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and its staff journalist Matt Cooper have made a deal with Little, Brown for “authorized” publication of their report about the 2008 collapse on December 15 in both print and digital versions. As is usually the case with government documents, the publisher’s version will compete with a free downloadable version available on government web sites.
But everything else about the deal, which the commission announced in a terse statement last week, is less traditional. As the Washington Post writes, the government retained two agents–Will Lippincott at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin and Joe Spieler of the Spieler Agency–and received bids in July from five of the big six publishers. And Little, Brown is paying both an advance and royalties.
As 9/11 Commission Report publisher Drake McFeely at Norton tells the Washington Post, “the government usually does not ask for royalties on public domain documents.” In winning the 9/11 Report, Norton prevailed by agreeing to invest in making the document available widely immediately upon release and at modest cost, but did not pay the government anything. Norton declined to bid on the financial crisis report.
Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission chairman Phil Angelides says the payments will go to the Treasury Department and notes “to the extent that we thought we could do well by the taxpayers, that would be a good thing.” He says the contract’s details will be revealed once the agreement is finalized.
Angelides says Little, Brown–where Geoff Shandler will edit–was selected for “the intangibles,” adding, “we felt very comfortable with them. If you have the luxury to choose between several, it winds up coming down to intangibles.” They are discussing “an enhanced e-version that will link to the documents and video.” Cooper suggests that the enhancements will also give Little, Brown’s edition a “jump start” on competitors (who could reprint the report once it is available.)