JEREMY HARRIS' BOOK OVERSTOCKED
languishes in stores
Former Mayor Jeremy Harris' book "The Renaissance of Honolulu" apparently isn't flying off shelves at Honolulu bookstores.
The distributor of the 224-page softcover book has told the city that it has "too many" -- about 3,700 -- unsold copies taking up room in its warehouse and wants to ship them to the city.
"The book got off to a great start, and we had it in all the right places but consumers just didn't seem to want to pick it up and buy it," wrote its distributor, the Island Group's President Jeff Swartz, in an e-mail to Managing Director Jeff Coelho. "Now all of those stores are returning them to us," the e-mail said.
Coelho said he does not know where he is going to put all those books, which will take up six pallets the size of a desk.
Coelho said the paper trail for the book has led to more questions, including what happened to 87 books and who is going to pay for $13,000 in unpaid invoices.
Coelho said 87 of the 5,000 books printed appear to be "missing" because the distributor only received 4,913 books.
"I'm not accusing anyone of wrongdoing. I just wish someone had left an inventory list of where those 87 books went -- if in fact they were given away as gifts or promotional items," Coelho said. The missing books have a value of more than $1,000.
Also, no one yet knows where the city going to find $13,000 in unpaid invoices connected to the printing of the book.
"A bad business decision was made," Coelho said.
Councilman Charles Djou, a critic of the book, said this latest information shows that "even from the outset it was a dumb idea."
The book was unveiled in December before the end of Harris' term, and it immediately raised questions about the use of taxpayer money to finance it.
Harris' authorship is being touted on the speaking circuit, where he is publicized as a planning and public-policy consultant on sustainability issues.
An investigation by the Corporation Counsel's office found no wrongdoing, but a probe by the city Ethics Commission continues.
Coelho said that out of the 5,000 books that were priced at $19.95 each, about 1,109 either remain in stores or have been sold. That means the city could potentially receive $7,000 to $9,500 in proceeds, which could help offset some of the $108,000 it took to publish it.
But the city will have to wait until September for any money. Only one book has been purchased since February.
"In defense of the Island Group, I can understand their hesitation in cutting us a check for $9,500 because they're not sure how much of these are coming back," he said.
Coelho said the city might incur additional storage charges if the distributor holds on to the books over the summer.
Djou said that the city might have to end up giving the book away to libraries or schools.
Coelho said there is additional evidence that the book was rushed into production because it contains large gray blocks where it appears photographs should have been. "There are a lot of missing photos that never made the cutoff," he said.