When I bought my copy of Nicholas Stuart’s Rudd: The Unauthorised Biography the day it came out the woman serving me in the bookshop said she was wondering how well it would sell. In Susan Wyndham’s Undercover column in the books section of this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald we have the answer: not very well.
In its first 10 days, according to Nielsen BookScan, it sold 572 copies. Its less critical rival biography by Robert Macklin had 504 sales. Once you take out friends and family of Rudd, friends and family of the biographers, people who think they might have been mentioned, Liberal politicians and staffers looking for dirt, and discount for those in the aforementioned groups who bought both books the number of members of the general public curious to know more about our likely next PM may be down into double figures, in the first week-and-a-half anyway.
Having read the Stuart book the book-buying public has probably made a sound judgment. Reading it cover to cover won’t change any perceptions a newspaper reader might have formed about Rudd over the last few years (indeed, it reads like a long newspaper article) and will add only slightly more detail. He is intelligent, hard-working, emotionally stable, politically moderate and very ambitious. He drives his staff hard, he loves his family.
Anyone running for PM is by definition somewhat unusual, but Rudd is on this account not a complex man – the pieces of his personality fit neatly together, without strong tensions between them. That may be something in his favour as the alternative Prime Minister, but it doesn’t help biographers craft an interesting story.