For the low, low price of $294,038, you can read James Patterson's next novel, Private Vegas, in an undisclosed location in the presence of a SWAT team. Because 24 hours after you start reading this copy, it will explode, Mission Impossible style.

Image credit: pond5 / IrochkaT

Patterson's basically chalking this stunt up to the desperate need of booksellers to compete in declining market. He told The Telegraph:

The publishing business needs to compete. It needs to compete with movies and the Internet.

... Twenty four hours after you start it, the book will no longer be there. I hope this spurs more ways to get attention.

What way draws more attention than an explosion? Or are we about to see a glut of self-destructing books?

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Lest you worry that almost $300,000 is a lot to spend to read a book and then watch it explode, the lucky buyer will also get a first-class flight to the undisclosed location, two nights' in a luxury hotel (only one of which you'll use, if you're a slow reader), 14-karat gold-plated binoculars, a five-course dinner with Patterson, and the SWAT team that will be on hand to deal with the explosives. Well, now you can't afford not to do it!

Another 1,000 fans will get codes to read a free digital copy of Private Vegas that will delete itself after 24 hours. All the stress of watching a countdown, none of the fun explodey bits.

Let's be clear: This is ridiculous. It's an exploding book. The biggest fan is going to have to read it again, because the stress/oddness of the situation does not lend itself to remembering plot.

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Susan Holden, managing director of the promotion at an advertising agency told The New York Times that Patterson thinks a friend of his might spend the dough to watch his book self-destruct:

He said to me that he wouldn't be surprised if one in his circle of friends might be interested. He's a super down-to-earth guy, but he runs with a billion-dollar crowd, so for some person that's a huge Patterson fan, this could be chump change and could be funny.

"Could be funny?" It's already hilarious.