Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

April 9

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The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: Greed or Philanthropy?

by Ann-Katrina

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner In a few forums, people are griping about yet another non-Midnight Sun book being released in the Twilight Saga. (For the uninitiated, it’s called The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.)

Some are claiming that Stephenie Meyer (and her publisher) is merely out for more money, while her defenders are quick to point out that the book is being released for free on her website in tandem with the hardcover release and a dollar of the proceeds is being donated to the American Red Cross.

Well, I’m the voice in the middle. I believe the release of this book is geared by both financial gain and altruism. I see your eyebrows raising and mouths dropping. How is such a thing possible? Those two things are complete opposites, you say. Ah ha! But they are not. They are two sides of the same coin.

First, let’s look at the altruism:

“There was one thing I asked for: since this story had always been an extra for me, and was meant to be released with the Guide, I wanted to be able to offer it to my fans for free. […] starting at noon on June 7th until July 5th, it will also be available online at

One other aspect of this release is the plan to give a more important gift to people who really need it. One dollar of each book purchased in the US from the first printing will be donated to the American Red Cross for their relief efforts in Haiti and Chile and other parts of the world where people are in great need.” – Stephenie Meyer (*Seth really should discover the wonderment of permalinks.)

Now, let’s take a closer look:

“…starting at noon on June 7th until July 5th…”

The book will only be available for 28 days…online. I don’t know many people who will want to read a 200 page book on their computer screen—and on a deadline—or who would want to print a 200 page book from their inkjet printer.

Best case scenario for people who haven’t discovered FinePrint or iPrint, even if they opt for duplex printing, is 100 loose sheets of paper to wrangle. But hey, it’s still free…as in beer. Chances are, most people will opt to buy the hardcover simply so they’ll have something physical they can hold.

Plus, what happens when the deadline’s up and word of mouth has spread about how supremely awesome The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is? You guessed right, those people will likely purchase a copy. Or what if the book is so supremely awesome that the reader wants his own copy to love and cuddle with at night? Right again, that reader will purchase a copy.

But…but…the profit is going to a charity, so it’s all good right? Sort of.

“One dollar of each book purchased in the US from the first printing will be donated to the American Red Cross…”

Did you catch it? The embedded small print? OK, let’s have a look at it as taken from the Bree Tanner website:

“…donating to the American Red Cross International Response Fund $1 for every hardcover book sold from the first printing in the U.S. Donations will continue until all first printing copies have been sold or at the end of a two-year period from the initial publication date, whichever is the first to occur.”

After the first printing is done, or two years if the first printing isn’t sold off right away, no more donations. We have to look at this from two angles: 1) How many books will be printed in that first round? and 2) How much is the actual profit margin?

I’ve heard the number 1,000,000 thrown around and that’s no number to sneeze at; people in need can definitely use the help. However, what if the first printing is only 250,000 books? Or what if the profit margin per book sold is somewhere around $3? That means for ever $1 they donate, $2 goes into someone’s pocket.

(Please note that I yanked those numbers out of thin air. I do not know what the actual profit margin for this book will be, merely illustrating a point.)

Looked upon objectively, there is financial gain in being altruistic. I’m not upset about it in the least—a girl’s gotta eat. But it’s always important to look at the situation objectively before hopping on a particular (extremist) bandwagon. What this all comes down to is more clever marketing.

Now a few parting words as an aside: If you’re an author, publicist, or publisher, you should be taking notes. The genius behind the Twilight Saga’s marketing is staggering.

Comments on The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: Greed or Philanthropy?

  1. # Audrey (brizmus) wrote on April 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm:

    Incredibly clever marketing, indeed. You’re so totally right on with all of your comments about this. It’s kind of fun to see greed and altruism working together.
    .-= Audrey (brizmus)´s last blog ..Review: the Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman =-.

  2. # christa @ mental foodie wrote on April 11, 2010 at 4:41 am:

    Great post! And ahh.. fine prints, don’t you love them!
    .-= christa @ mental foodie´s last blog ..Book Review – Lottery: A Novel by Patricia Wood =-.

  3. # Meadow wrote on January 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm:

    I don’t think it’s greed at all. Writers really don’t make as much as people think they do.
    If you’re a kid, wow that’s a lot of money. But if your buying food not only for your self but for your family and you have bills to pay, gas, anything that brakes that you need to replace, that money goes down really fast. And if it’s greedy to feed your family, I’m one greedy person.
    And even if you don’t agree with me, please for the love of god, don’t call it greed. It bugs me to no end.

    I really don’t care and don’t fallow Stephenie and all that’s she’s doing but I for one, thought it was kind of Stephenie to donate one dollar to the Red Cross for every book for how ever long. If it were me, I wouldn’t have done any thing like that. Damn I’m so poor!

  4. # Ann-Kat wrote on January 17, 2012 at 8:45 pm:

    Hi Meadow,
    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I read your comment and my first thought was, Did she even bother to read the post or did she just read the title and decide to get “bugged”?

    This post isn’t about authors in general, it’s about the marketing machine that is The Twilight Franchise. Stephenie Meyer is a millionaire several times over–and that was long before the release of Bree Tanner–so I’m sure her bills are paid and her family is clothed, fed, and comfortable.

    Next, I never said anything about her being greedy. Nor did I say there was anything wrong with earning money for her work. In fact, I said the opposite. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting paid for one’s work. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making boatloads of money for one’s work either.

    What I did say was that the Bree Tanner philanthropy angle was duplicitous. I’m happy that the Red Cross at least got something, but people shouldn’t be drooling at her (or her publisher’s) feet because, OMG, they’re so generous…it was a marketing ploy. And a damn good one, which is why I told the authors/publishers/publicists to take note.

    But frankly, I would have rather given my dollar directly to the Red Cross (which, incidentally, I did).

    To offer perspective, 100% of the net proceeds from the sale of The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling go to Lumos (formerly Children’s High Level Group), and it wasn’t even that highly publicized–even when she caught a lot of flack for being greedy by coming out with yet another, but not quite, Harry Potter book.

    Although I saw plenty of buzz for the book coming out, I didn’t know any of the proceeds went to a charity until I’d had the book in hand and read the front matter. Not only that, Rowling helped chair the foundation.

    What did all of that tell me? It wasn’t about the marketing with Beedle, it was about getting money into the charity. And that’s the difference between the release of it and Bree Tanner.

    Hope that clarifies it for you or anyone else who may happen across this post.

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