Book briefs: Why did Ted Cruz buy 10,000 copies of his own book?

'A Time for Truth' by Ted Cruz
Republican presidential hopeful Senator Ted Cruz published 'A Time for Truth' in June.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

This week in books, one presidential candidate buys his own book in bulk, while a notoriously private poet may soon be a comedy star.

Emily Dickinson: A comedy?

Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
And Immortality.

That's Emily Dickinson, soon to be played on the big screen by Molly Shannon. That Molly Shannon — the "Saturday Night Live" armpit-sniffing cheerleader Molly Shannon.

Dickinson doesn't seem like the obvious choice for a comedy, but writer-director Madeleine Olnek is filming an "experimental" comedy period piece about the notoriously private poet.

Actress Molly Shannon and poet Emily Dickinson
Comedian Molly Shannon (left) will star as poet Emily Dickinson in an upcoming comedy period piece.
Image of Molly Shannon by David Shankbone via Wikipedia, image of Emily Dickinson via public domain

Dickinson's fame came largely after her death. She died at age 55 in 1886 — her sister collected and published her poems. Dickinson never married, but her love life has been the subject of much speculation. Some scholars suggest she had a romance with an elderly judge, others suspect she may have been in love with her sister-in-law.

There was one clear love in her life, however: Her dog, Carlo. No word yet on who will play him in the film, which does not yet have a release date.

The oddest piece of author memorabilia for sale

AbeBooks is full of literary treasures, from first editions to 50-cent paperbacks. The site also specializes in author memorabilia.

The weirdest thing for sale on the site right now? Edith Wharton's sterling silver baby rattle. Wharton was an American novelist, best known for winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1920 for "The Age of Innocence."

Her rattle is priced at a cool $16,500. Richard Davies, publicity manager for AbeBooks, says it's the most unusual item at the moment — but not of all time. That distinction goes to a pair of Eugene O'Neil's underwear, which went up for sale in 2013.

The site also has Truman Capote's original birth certificate for sale, if any diehard Capote fans have $35,000 to spend.

Why did Ted Cruz buy 10,000 copies of his own book?

That's the question Jason Pinter asks in an article for The New Republic.

According to Federal Exchange Commission filings, Cruz's presidential campaign paid his publisher, HarperCollins, $122,000 — enough for approximately 8,000 to 10,000 copies of "A Time for Truth," with his author's discount.

Considering Cruz's advance for the book was likely in the $1.5 million range, he has the funds to do it: But why? Turns out, Cruz is selling autographed copies of the book for $85 — a significant mark-up from the $27.99 retail price.

As Pinter writes, "In essence, the campaign is taking money from Cruz's donors to buy books, many of which they will sell right back to those donors at a massive markup."

He's definitely not the first politician involved in bulk purchases of his own book. The State Department, Pinter points out, bought thousands of copies of Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father" in 2011 "to be used as Christmas gifts and to stock foreign embassies."

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, had others do it for him: Instead of speaking fees, he asked organizations to purchase the equivalent amount of his books.

That may be because a little bonus comes with mass book purchases: The book rises on bestseller lists.

The New York Times has found a way to call that out, though. When Romney's book hit No. 1, it came with the qualifier: "some retailers report receiving bulk orders."

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