Thursday, November 25, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: The Political Book Bargain Bin

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
November 25, 2010

With Black Friday just one day away, now's the perfect time to be thinking about good deals on gifts for New Mexico political junkies.

One such item would be books by and about the outgoing governor. Here, there are bargains to be had.

Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life by Bill Richardson (with ghost writer Michael Rub) is the biography the governor published in 2005. The hardcover edition is selling on for $20.76, discounted 20 percent from the original price.

However, Amazon lists new copies of the book from other sellers for as low as 99 cents and used copies for as low as a penny.

Paperback copies of Between Worlds are also cheap. If you buy directly from Amazon, you'll be charged $4.40. But other sellers listed there are charging as little as $2 for a new copy and $1.75 for a used one.

Richardson's other book, Leading by Example, How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution, is selling in a hardcover version on Amazon for $4.96, down from the original price of $25.95. But you can find new and used copies from other sellers listed by Amazon for as little as one cent.

To be fair, the shelf life of books from unsuccessful presidential candidates is notoriously short.

You can get hardcover copies of Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2004 book Living History, John McCain's Why Courage Matters (also 2004) or paperbacks of Howard Dean's 2003 Winning Back America for a penny on Amazon as well.

But commanding a higher price than either of Richardson's books at is a curious 2006 tome called Frozen Lightning: Bill Richardson's Strike on the Political Landscape of New Mexico by Santa Fe author Bill Althouse (and a thousand and one other New Mexicans, the cover says).

It's a hatchet job that would put Lizzie Borden to shame, calling the governor, among other things, a "tool for fascism" and "a politician driven to evil by his presidential aspirations." Altman blasts the governor in this book nearly as intensely as Richardson puffs himself up in his autobiography.

I wrote about Frozen Lightning in this column when it was first published.  (Click HERE, scroll down.)

Originally priced at $12.95, the paperback is available from sellers on Amazon for as low as $7.38 for a new copy and $6.78 for a used one.

Kumbaya: You probably couldn't find two political groups in New Mexico much further apart than the right-wing think-tank the Rio Grande Foundation and the left-wing activist group We Are New Mexico.

Last week I wrote about both groups offering solutions to the state's dire budget crisis. There wasn't much from one side that the other side could embrace. But on Wednesday, We Are New Mexico's Bruce Wetherbee, acting in the spirit of Thanksgiving, he said, contacted Rio Grande director Paul Gessing saying there might be at least one instance of common ground.

"We want to acknowledge and support the recent suggestion by you and the Rio Grande Foundation that '$19.5 million could be saved by diverting most non-violent offenders out of prisons and diverting from prison probationers and parolees who are revoked for technical violations of their supervisors,' " he wrote.

Wetherbee's letter said, "We hope people can utilize the holiday spirit to solve our problems by reasonable debate and negotiation instead of political posturing that has generally focused on the extremes and fostering distrust. We would welcome an opportunity to exchange ideas and see what we agree on, with the goal of presenting the new governor a package of 'stipulated' items or ideas that help solve our budget dilemma."

We'll see how far this goes.

Happy Thanksgiving.