Home > Uncategorized > The Challenges of Celebrity-Based Titles

The Challenges of Celebrity-Based Titles

Si-CologyRight now, Duck Dynasty books are the rage. But how long will it last? When are you seeing the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg’ and when are you seeing the entire iceberg? In remainder shipment several years ago we received more than 150 copies of Multiple Blessings, the story of now-divorced Jon and Kate Gosselin. Several books were released about basketball overnight sensation Jeremy Lin, but as of last night you could buy overstock copies of each at a popular Canadian remainder wholesaler. Some stores are skittish about the biography of Pattie Mallette, Justin Bieber’s mom — recently released in a teen edition — because their shelf life seems to hinge on whatever crazy things J.B. does next; and while I don’t believe there are any publishing products, had a Christian bookstore that based its buying on earlier faith statements by Miley Cyrus would probably be pulling that inventory from the shelves after her Video Music Awards performance.

Generally speaking, some celebrity tie-in titles can make Y2K books look like a great investment.

Andy Butcher covers this topic at Publisher’s Weekly by talking to heads of the Christian divisions of major publishing houses.  He addresses the challenges that stores face knowing when to jump in and when to get out:

Part of the reason for the shorter life of such books is the endless news cycle that rapidly churns through stories. That makes event-driven celebrity books especially tough. Publishers considering “ripped from the headlines” books have to ask: will anyone remember this event in a year? And is this really a book or just a magazine article?

There’s also the “Snakes on a Plane” factor: Too much publicity gives away the plot:

…“You can get more publicity for these kinds of books than others, but sometimes that satisfies the readers’ curiosity,” notes Rolf Zettersten, publisher at FaithWords. “They read about it in People magazine or on some Christian Web site and say, ‘Well, now I know everything I’m interested to know.’ It can backfire.”

Potential oversell like this should be addressed ahead of time, according to Matt Baugher, senior v-p and publisher at Thomas Nelson. “We have to be more diligent with these individuals than perhaps other authors, so that when they are on the morning shows they are not giving away too much of the story…”

This is an excellent article. Take five minutes to read all of it at Publisher’s Weekly, where it appeared under the title, Religion Update 2013: The Promise and Pitfalls of Celebrity Books.

Related article re. Duck Dynasty books.

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