Amazon.com, the online retailing behemoth that recently sent a shockwave through the publishing world by signing several prominent authors to publishing contracts, has radically upped the ante.
In a deal described by one industry expert as "unprecedented," and by another as "the stupidest goddamn thing I've ever heard of," Amazon has signed a deal with Mark Steinberg, a niche blogger with a double-digit following, calling for Steinberg to pen a 1000 page book that Amazon will distribute by Tweet.
The book, whose working title is The Remote Possibility of Earning Anything From Writing, will explore Steinberg's career as an author and provide insights into the negotiating techniques he has used to win unheard-of publishing deals.
In an unusual move, Steinberg chose to negotiate face-to-face with Amazon. He said he decided against using an agent or attorney "... because those guys are bloodsuckers. They take a big cut and leave you with next to nothing."
When it was pointed out that under his contract with Amazon he would actually receive nothing, while Amazon would get an option on one of his kidneys, he replied, "Yeah, but there was still some hard bargaining in those negotiations, let me tell you."
He continued, "When I walked into that room, even before I could sit down their lawyer said, 'OK, we want an option on both your kidneys. And I looked him in the eye and I said, 'I didn't take three buses to come down here and listen to you make jokes.'"
"So after he told a few jokes and I laughed like they were funny, which they weren't, we agreed on one kidney and did the deal."
Steinberg said he intends to devote at least 18 million Tweets to detailing the very negotiation that led to the groundbreaking agreement.
"It's like The Taming of the Shrew, but instead of a play within a play it's the story of how book deals get done in a book that's getting published because of a book deal that got done. I expect the top reviewers are going to pick up on the irony."
Steinberg said he will also reveal how he manages to survive on no income.
"I'll tell my readers how to squeeze a highly favorable community property settlement out of a woman who holds four jobs and inflicts serious pain and suffering on you by giving your Barcalounger and Commodore II to Goodwill. I'll also lead them through the complex processes for obtaining TARP funds and soy bean subsidies. I am also planning to provide a guide to the sofa stores where significant amounts of change can be found between the cushions."
Before retiring to his refrigerator box, Steinberg directed a word of thanks to his publisher:
"Amazon has done something that 67 conventional publishers wouldn't . Not only have they refused to turn their back on me just because of some plagiarism claims involving my last book, they've accorded me the privilege of spearheading the most important event in the publishing world since the release of Exposing Myself, Geraldo Rivera's autobiographical masterpiece."
"And while the prospect of writing my book in four billion 140 character groups is unquestionably daunting, as someone whose colleagues at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Facility referred to as shi oyayubi-san , or Mr. Four Thumbs, I believe I'm more than ready to meet the challenge."
Editor's note: This post is intended to be construed as satire.
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