Over the past few years, it seems like every other celebrity (and I am using this term loosely) has come out with a memoir. Sometimes, it’s someone who I don’t think half of the country has even heard of, and I find myself at Barnes & Noble thinking, Really? Some agent was able to sell the story of a Bachelor reject?
When I was an intern at a big entertainment magazine, one of my duties was to open the dozens of packages that came every week carrying book galleys. About 92 percent were immediately pushed aside, with a select few making it to the editor’s desk. A rather large percentage of these books were by celebrity authors, and a few were big names – I was able to read one of Chelsea Handler’s books before it was released as well as Carol Burnett’s. But I also saw some books from names so obscure, I was left speechless at the fact that they had a book deal.
It did make for some good gift-giving. The books were eventually placed on the giveaway table, and I had fun sending them to friends as surprise gifts. My childhood friend, who had just moved to San Francisco, especially enjoyed her copy of Real Housewives of New York City (then) star Jill Zarin’s Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Family, Real Love. It was quite possibly the most random gift I’ve ever given anyone.
For me, the name has to be pretty big for me to pay attention. I don’t like the fact that publishing houses are giving anyone with some name recognition book deals, especially when the books are written by ghostwriters. If, for instance, Brad Pitt wrote a book, I still wouldn’t pick it up; yes, the name’s big, but I’m really not that interested in what he might have to say (sorry, Brad, nothing personal!). I love Tina Fey and think she’s extremely funny, so I knew I’d read her book. If Tina was a serious actress and wrote a book, I don’t necessarily know if I’d make the purchase; I read so many non-fiction books about not-super-hilarious topics, so I think what really drew me to Bossypants was the fact that it was going to be funny. Obviously, being able to make me laugh isn’t the only reason why I would get a book, but when it comes to celebrities, it just might be. The over-saturated market really leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I think you have to be really talented to make me give you my hard-earned money (or seek you out at the library).
What about you? What makes you pick up a celebrity book? Am I being too hard on the publishing companies, who obviously need to make money any way they can in this market? What was the last great celeb book you read? Who do you think should write one? I would read the crap out of an Amy Poehler book – you hear that, book agents?