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by Peter Moskos

March 1, 2012

"Up With Chris Hayes" book sales bump?

You might wonder (I certainly do): Does being on national TV for half an hour and having your book plugged in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers actually help book sales?

Not really. Now my sales did triple for that week. Yes they did... but we're still only talking an additional 25 copies sold. Nationwide. For both my books.

These are absolute numbers (and no, the scale isn't "thousands"), and it probably represents about half the number of total sales.

At this feverish pace Flogging would sell about 500 copies a year. Keep it up and in about 22 years I'll have earned back my decent ($22,000) advance and would start getting royalties. Bookmark 2034 for a big party.

The good news is that Cop in the Hood is still selling pretty well, especially considering it's been out for a few years. This is due to professors (very smart professors, I might add) assigning the book in their classes. (#3Cheers4Indoctrination)

My meager advance ($3,150, if one subtracts the indexing fee) from the estimable Princeton University Press was paid off pretty quickly. So now I get about a buck for each copy sold. It comes out to about $1,000 a year. This money is my favorite kind: free money. But no, books do not let me quit my day job (luckily I like my day job) or live the high life (I can always buy a few six-packs of the High Life).

Give or take (off the top of my head), I think I've earned about $15,000 from Cop in the Hood. Nice for an academic book. Not so nice if you consider it took, on and off, from start to finish, nine years to research and write. Of course during that time I did work as a cop, get a PhD, and then the nice job I have now. So I can't complain. And as a professor, publishing serves purposes other than money, such as getting tenure, promotion, and respect in the field.

What I would like to do is tip my cap to writers who actually manage, against all odds, to earn a learning. As full-time job, it's tough, low-paid work without health insurance. (On the plus side, you can wear your bathrobe all day.)

As to my day job, the taxpayers of New York State pay me (an eighth-year tenured professor) $74,133 a year. That will go up just a bit with my recent promotion to associate professor. I tell you this not to gloat (I'd have to make a lot more if I wanted to gloat) or to thank the taxpayers (though I do), but because I believe it's good to be open about income. I've explained this rational before. Knowledge is power. And workers need more of both.

Besides, if releasing your tax returns is good enough for Mitt, it's good enough for me! If I can read my tax returns correctly (my wife does those, around here), we paid an income tax rate (federal, state, and local) of 20 percent (gross income) or 25 percent (taxable income).

In 2010, Mitt Romney was unemployed, but he did manage to make my annual salary each and every 30 hours of the year. His tax rate was 14 percent. Now that's the American way.

I'd prefer him to pay more rather than me pay less.


Dana King said...

Thanks for posting the income numbers. The average person has no idea what numbers like Romney's net worth or annual income mean. Once a person's income gets to be a few times what they make, he enters the class of "making a lot of money." If more people understood Romney makes more money in a day sitting on his ass than they make in a year of busting theirs, I have to believe things would be different here.

Anonymous said...

For your next book you should work on Police Discretion, or it's destruction. Seems like the Officer in this story was trying very hard to say, "I don't like doing this, but I have to."


PCM said...

That's not a bad idea. I am very interested in discretion, and how it's used and misused.

But here's the thing, it bothers me when an officer says or acts like, "I don't like doing this, but I have to." You know what? You *don't* have to do that. You may have a quota (I mean productivity goal) to fill. Five tickets is pretty normal. So find five friggin people doing real offenses in eight hours. It really isn't that hard. But if you sit on your ass for the first seven hours, yeah, you'll be getting people for using two seats during the last.

I had a student a year or two ago who was given a ticket (he showed it to me) for a similar offense at a similar time. He was asleep after a very long day of school and work.

Anonymous said...

Most transit cops are assigned to stand at a post in a subway station, and the only common violations that can be found are fare evasion (turnstile jumping), open container violations, and people with their feet on seats. If you're working the midnight tour on a Tuesday at a subway station in Greenwood, you're not going to find a ton of egregious violations unless you just stand by the turnstiles for 8 hours.

Furthermore, this particular violation is often given during Transit Order Maintenance Sweeps (TOMS) in which a group of officers and a supervisor congregate at a station and are instructed to peek into the trains as they come into the station to look for "violations." Now one of the only type of violations you will often find doing this is people with their feet on the seat. In fact, from the description in the linked article, it sounds like she was caught by officers conducting TOMS.

Honestly, this doesn't even bother me. For hygienic reasons, people should not have their feet on the seats even if the train is empty.

PCM said...

Thanks for the comment. Very informative.

(But what if I put my feet on newspaper, and then take the paper with me? )

Anonymous said...

It's more than these are literally sweeps not to improve quality of life for citizens, it's to generate stats. What's the end point? Sweeps with a supervisor, so as a cop you're basically having your hand held and being micromanaged and being instructed how to do your job. I get it, feet on the seat, yea gross. You know what else is gross? Shoe sweeps with three people doing one cops job. Is the 36th station a serious "hotspot" for shoe-related crime. Give me a break.

PCM said...

Well said.

Broken Windows has an end-point. Zero Tolerance does not. I like the former and not the latter. (And it's on my mind because I'm writing about James Q. Wilson and lectured last night about Broken Windows.)

A cop could easily say, "Take yours feet off the seat, ya slob." Problem solved.

David said...


By my calculations you'd have to work 62.31 years to make what Mitt Romney paid in Federal taxes in 2010, you'd only have to work 40.25 years to make what he donated to charity in 2010.

Me (BA Towson State, MBA Loyola College, MPP Cand. George Mason) I'm angry as hell I didn't have the opporturnity to study at Princeton and Harvard.

PCM said...

Nice comment!

But you probably you probably did have a chance of studying at Princeton and Harvard. Neither of us have a chance of giving millions to charity.

Really what I wish, is not that it would take me 62 years to make what he paid in taxes, but that I would make the same and it would take my 200 years!

IrishPirate said...

Part of the problem for your anemic book sales may be the lack of sexy titles.

"Freakonomics" is a great marketing word.

Your flogging book should have been called something like "Whip it, Whip it Good: An Ex-Cops Guide to Reducing Crime and Bicycle Maintenance".

I'll give you a guerrilla or gorilla example of marketing. I carry a Magnum condom displayed behind the plastic in my wallet. Woman at a bar sees me whip out my credit card to pay for the drinks and she has a pavlovian response. We later go back to her place and then I whip out the undersized condom I carry behind the Magnum. The one with the Shamrock on the package.

Too late. She's already committed to two minutes of the best sex of my life.

IrishPirate said...

For the cover art for that title you would need a buxom 50's pinup type chick dressed as a cop, riding a bicycle, carrying a whip and a criminal underfoot.

Oh, and she would also be wearing high heels.

PCM said...


The cover art should have been drawn by Art Frahm.