The Huffington Post gladly pointed out of the reasons the book industry is suffering last week: celebrity books. They listed seven of their most (in)famous book deals, leading the list with the recent announcement that Jersey Shore's Snooki would be writing a novel.
Now, ok, fine, I get our obsession with celebrity memoirs. They can (but hardly ever do) reveal the truth behind the celebrity, get us closer to the real person than we ever could on TV or in the movies.
But Snooki? Writing a novel? Who does she think she is? Lauren Conrad's ghostwriter?
The list includes Conrad's novels, loosely based on The Hills or her life, depending on which interview you read, Nicole Ritchie's novels (that's right - she just released a second one), and, of course, that memoir Justin Bieber is writing. Because a sixteen year old has the mental capacity and life experience to say anything worthwhile, when most novelists are first published in their thirties - and that's an early age.
Just like the stunt advance pay for Kiran Desai that I reported on last week, I feel like celebrity books are just weakening our culture's love of books. Sure, these people might sell some books, get some reviews, and hell, if they're Lauren Conrad, might even end up on the NYT Bestseller list. But that doesn't mean they're good for readers or the publishing industry.
It's like in business, you take the cheaper deal, getting the lesser product, but knowing that you're going to have to replace it sooner than if you had coughed up more money. These celebrity books are light, as easy to read as they are apparently to write, and then they disappear.
But then, the customers probably aren't that excited for another book. They don't come back for a return visit. Instead, they're like, well, I was going to read The Time Traveler's Wife, but Nicole Ritchie's book sucked, so I just don't feel like reading. Good books lead to other good books. Bad books? They lead to people to not reading.
The publishing industry should be focusing on creating books of quality that people will want to read more than for the sake of laughing at the author. They should be producing books that make the reader so sad the book is over, that they will go out and buy another book. Any smart businessperson will tell you this is the key to cultivating your customerbase. Why can't the publishing industry see it?