Top Tory blogger Iain Dale is cock-a-hoop - and in his own words, "self-satisfied" this morning - having published (through his aptly named 'biteback' press) and organised the Mail on Sunday serialisation of ex-Labour General Secretary Peter Watt's personal attack on his former colleagues.
Dale calculates that the news of the book will have reached seven million people: the MoS claims a readership of 5.3 million on its 2 million+ circulation, so many of whom will have been gripped by the stirring tale of fear and loathing on the National Executive Committee this morning.
I would venture the following observations, which draw loosely on having spent three years in book publishing, commissioning politics for Macmillan, in the late '90s.
1. Will Dale say what his initial print run is? I would be very surprised if it were over 2000 copies, and would guess it more likely to be less than half, or even a quarter, of that. (Pitch it low enough, and you could announce a sell-out and a reprint by next week!). I shall ask him.
2. I imagine the publisher and author would be in profit, though this will surely primarily depend on any largesse received from Mr Paul Dacre's chequebook rather than the great book-buying British public.
3. The main impact - the whole point - of such an exercise is the media and blogosphere political detonation. The book (co-authored by the Sunday Times' deputy political editor Isabel Oakeshott, making their non-serialisation of the book interesting) is simply a vehicle.
It is certainly the type of serialisation which makes buying the book pretty redundant for any but the most dedicated anorak.
If the tell-all memoir of Peter Watt would have not been an obvious candidate for the list of a mainstream publishing house, one might then observe the success of several key players from Britain's political right (particularly the Ashcroft-Montgomerie-Dale triumvirate) in realising the value of creating alternative media channels to make such interventions possible, through whatever combination of strategic funding and individual initiative is involved.
So one can hardly fairly criticise Iain Dale for any of this. It is good news for his publishing business, for his media profile and for his political prospects, since this will be seen in CCHQ as very helpful intervention from the aspiring candidate. (Dale suggests that he would be just as vigorous in promoting a book which damaged Cameron, Osborne or Boris; though one can note only that there may then be trade-offs, since his different interests would not be so happily aligned in that case).
But Labour voices will wonder at Watt's actions, and his choice of accomplices and outlets will raise further questions too. Watt was always out of his depth as General Secretary, as his astonishing profession of ignorance about the party funding laws in 2007 shows (though that perhaps reflects more on Labour's NEC and high command than it does on him).
Iain Dale's verdict at the time was that Watt had to be either "a liar or an incompetent fool".
Whatever Watt's motivation - ego, financial gain, personal revenge, or a botched attempt to participate a weekend late in a farcical coup would all seem to be among the possible contenders - very few in his own party will thank him for his final destructive contribution to the party's general election effort.
LibDem blogger James Graham has an incisive post asks "which side is Peter Watt's side of the story?", identifying some significant questions about his account.
Graham reads the extracts as implying that Watt takes no personal responsibility for failing to register the true donors; perhaps even continuing to believe that this was lawful. (If so, that would be to stick to the position Iain Dale previously described as that of "a liar or an incomptent fool"). Graham notes too that the MoS account would seem to contradict a 2008 Isabel Oakeshott report of what Watt is 'understood' to have told the police. (Graham infers that Watt may have been the source of this report). As nobody is allowed to read the book for a fortnight, one can't definitively judge whether the book clears up these mysteries.