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Entrepreneur-Rapper Jay-Z's Literary Endeavor

Jay-Z is quite the wealthy Renaissance man: he's sold 50 million albums, runs Def Jam Records, and started a successful clothing label, Rocawear. Plus, he's worth $450 million, bringing in an estimated $63 million last year, according to Forbes. Now he's adding "author" to his resume: this week his first book "Decoded" hits store shelves. The 336 page hard-cover book retails for $35 — it's a memoir of Jay-Z's live and explains the lyrics of his raps.

Jay-Z Decoded book
Jay-Z Decoded book

The book isn't quite tailored for the CNBC audience, in that it doesn't talk much about his varied businesses: running Def Jam or striking a $150 million deal with Live Nation. But if the book mirrors his music's success atop the Billboard charts, then Jay-Z stands to cash in. He's hardly the first musician to pen a book — from Madonna, to Kanye West to Eminem — plenty have done it, some even hitting bestseller status. But Jay-Z has something very unique behind this literary effort: he's harnessed the power of Microsoft as a marketing partner.

Microsoft's Bing is hosting a several week long scavenger hunt built around the book — players find pages of "Decoded"using Bing's mapping tool. Microsoft isn't just spending on this rather elaborate game, it's also spending $1 million on ads to promote the partnership. Jay-Z is benefiting from millions more of related promotion from Microsoft and Clear Channel, which is also on board.

So why would Microsoft partner with Jay-Z? He has a huge fan base and Microsoft wants to convince those fans to use Bing. An added incentive — Jay-Z has direct access to 5.25 million of those fans through Facebook: they follow his every move as "fans." Bing used Jay-Z's Facebook feed to communicate with his fans, giving clues about where to find each of the "Decoded" pages. This is a natural fit for Microsoft, which has invested in Facebook, and Bing, which has a search partnership with the social network.

And so far, it's working. Microsoft says this is the most successful marketing campaign Bing has ever done, based on a metric of "buzz," which it measures around the web. Since the game is ongoing, Microsoft hasn't yet calculated a return-on-investment, but so far it's quite promising. And all this free promotion should give Jay-Z quite a nice ROI for his investment in his book. We'll be watching to see if a boost from Bing helps "Decoded" reach the bestseller lists.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.