The notorious “1%” who are hogging an obscene proportion of global wealth do get a terribly bad press. We forget the troubles they have to endure. I know clever accountants offer some help with this, but they are still required to pay an awful lot of tax. And then there’s the problem of how to spend the vast remainder – there’s only so many yachts a body can buy. For the bookish billionaire, some help is now at hand from a man who must understand their predicament better than most, as one of the 0.00001% of authors who share these budgeting issues.
Crime-fiction king James Patterson’s plan is to sell a very special edition of his new novel Private Vegas – the title a nod to the lonesome plight of the super rich? – for 0,000 (£198,000), to tempt those in a similar income bracket. And in a further twist for those seeking pointless ways to squander their stacks, the buyer doesn’t even get to keep the book – it will explode a day after it’s been opened. (It is an interestingly paradoxical self-estimation of the value of his work: on the one hand, 300K’s worth, on the other – entirely disposable.) Uselessness, as Thorstein Veblen wrote in The Theory of the Leisure Class, does bring with it great social capital, partly explaining the very healthy trade in first editions that are never read.
Rather reducing its value as a premium waste of money, a five-course dinner with Mr Patterson is thrown in – along with, for some reason, a pair of 14-carat-gold binoculars (which will only retain their appeal as exquisitely empty shopping if you resist the temptation to melt them down).
Susan Holden, who is running the promotion, says Patterson is confident he’ll find a buyer: “He said to me that he wouldn’t be surprised if one in his circle of friends might be interested … He’s a super down-to-earth guy, but he runs with a billion-dollar crowd, so for some person that’s a huge Patterson fan, this could be chump change, and could be funny.”
For the stingier fans, or those who do not fall into the 1% class, there is another option: the book’s website will be giving 1,000 readers who apply on 21 January a free ebook that will delete itself after 24 hours. Or you can buy a regular copy from 26 January. But you won’t get the gold binoculars. Maybe I’ll just buy another yacht.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010