In its own way, the Bush administration tried its best to prime the publishing pump. Last month, Karl Rove revealed that he and Bush spent the past three years in a furious competition to see who could read the most books. It started, fittingly, with Team of Rivals. In 2006, the year Republicans lost the Congress, Rove out-read Bush 110-95. Rove went on to win the next two years, 76-51 and 64-40. That's an astonishing 436 books, which means Gingrich owes Bush $372 and Rove $500.
Obama and his team could meet or exceed Bush's speed-reading pace, but such a heavy course load comes at some cost. For 2008 alone, the $700 billion Treasury bailout package works out to $6.7 billion per Bush-Rove volume.
In any case, Obama doesn't need Douglas Brinkley's book review bailout plan or a nightstand groaning with new books to turn the business around. As the most successful author ever elected to the White House, Obama could save the publishing industry with the stroke of a pen—just by writing a book a year for the rest of his presidency. We wouldn't even need those $5 coupons.