I hope HarperCollins sells a million copies of the Sarah Palin book. No, seriously.
Don’t stage an intervention just yet.
In the interest of full disclosure I should note that I haven’t bought the book or read the book, and I won’t. I did purchase Going Rouge from OR books, a collection of essays about Palin and her brief vice-presidential campaign, and I strongly recommend that book to anyone who views Palin the way I do, as an especially interesting, politically-tinted, celebrity train wreck.
I didn’t need to read the ghosted tell-all memoir because AK Muckraker (Jeanne Devon) who writes on themudflats.net bravely soldiered through it and reported on each chapter. I got the full effect of Palin’s snide comments about fellow Alaskan Andrew Halcro, which in one paragraph alone fluoresces neon-green with her unexplained envy of Halcro; her whininess about the McCain campaign and the flavor of her incoherence even with a ghostwriter, without having to spend any money or read the rest of the book. Thank you, AKM.
But I still hope they sell a million.
Here’s my thinking: If HarperCollins makes a bundle on this book, that gives them some reserves in the operating budget, a budget they just might spend on hyping a new author with a good book.
Does it seem unlikely they’ll sell a million? Not necessarily. I’m sure all the conservative outlets like Newsmax got some sort of volume discount on the thousands of books they pre-release purchased and sold at 70% off cover price, and even, lately, have tried to give away, but you know they paid something. Rupert Murdoch might love the conservatives but he loves his profit more, so I’m sure those books didn’t go out at a loss. There are hundreds of thousands of people who see Palin as cute, feisty and interesting and want to know more about her. Then there are thousands—well, okay, hundreds—who bought the book as opposition research. Okay, let me revise that number down yet again. There are a few hundred like that.
HarperCollins could sell a million. Tell-alls are popular. I mean, didn’t Paris Hilton get her name on the front of one not too long ago? Didn’t she do some semi-mandatory whining about people who had turned against her? And c’mon, isn’t some part of your mind counting the days until you hear that Tiger Woods’s wife has signed a book deal?
These books sell. Buying one doesn’t mean you like or respect the subject of it. It just means you’re curious.
Murdoch, who owns HarperCollins, has never been a champion of quality in his publications, but presumably there is someone at HarperCollins who is, who could sneak a good book into next year’s line up and siphon off a tiny bit of the reserves for some promotion. It’s been done before.
There’s another reason I want the Palin book to sell. I know most of them have been sold from Costcos or pre-ordered, but some of them—some—have to have come from real bookstores. This means people had to go into a bookstore. Funny things happen in bookstores. For one thing, the Palin book is displayed in the non-fiction section. There are lots of other interesting books in the non-fiction section, including Three Cups of Tea, still a strong seller after all this time, and that author’s new book, Stones into Schools. Maybe some Palin fans, or just Palin-curious, will be intrigued by some other book they see. Maybe they’ll buy it. Maybe they’ll read it. Maybe it will make them think. And then, who knows what might happen?