August 1

This Day in History

Literary

Aug 1, 1994:

Pope John Paul II receives record-breaking advance

Newspapers report on this day in 1994 that publishing house Alfred A. Knopf will pay Pope John Paul II a record-breaking $8.75 million advance for his new book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. The book, a collection of essays addressing moral and theological questions, becomes a bestseller.

The figure exceeded the previous record set when Random House paid Army General Colin Powell some $6 million for his autobiography, My American Journey, which became one of the fastest selling books in America. Other multimillion-dollar book deals in the early 1990s included autobiographies of Ronald Reagan and Marlon Brando. Oprah Winfrey also received a multimillion-dollar advance for her autobiography, but she withdrew from the deal in 1993.

Another publishing record was set on this day in 1975, when E.L. Doctorow received $1.85 million for the paperback rights to Ragtime.

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