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The “g-factor” of Publishing Celebrity

January 15, 2011

What’s her name?  Pookie?  This girl from “Jersey Shore,” who’s always wearing a “Bump-it.”  I’m sure you’ve heard by now that she’s got a book published.  It’s a novel, not autobiographical, but it’s been published with her name bigger than the title of the book and a giant picture of her face the cover, so I’m pretty sure that the publisher is hoping that you buy it thinking it is her story.  Certainly you’re expected to buy it because she wrote it and not because you heard what a great story is inside.

It’s kind of crazy how this happens.  These books just come right out, month after month.  Nicole RichieMiley CyrusParis Hilton.   Justin Bieber.  I mean, Justin Bieber?  He could have a page written for every day he’s been born and the thing would still be a weekend read.  I try to bring myself into understanding where the purchases come from to support the industry of books from these temporary Hollywood distractions.  Are these readers, a sect of people who really want to know more about the celebrity?  And once you read the book, do you actually know anything significantly more about them?  There couldn’t have been enough readers wanting to know the deep dark secrets of the Olson Twins when their book was published, at age fourteen, to make it worth the cost of publication and distribution.  There has to be more of a business model than:

x (population of fan base) *  y%  =  profit margin

I believe there is more science to it than just that.

There is probably enough of a fan base, based on the above equation, to buy about half the necessary books to cover publication and distribution costs.  These are the folks who will even read some of the book, A) because they bought it and B) because they know someone else who is a fan, so they have someone to show off their knowledge to.  Then there are parents and relatives who will buy a copy because they don’t know how to say no to their kids, or because they just don’t know what else to get them.   None of these copies will be read but they probably account for another 25-30% of the overhead.  This still leaves a good 20-25% before the publisher can even start turning a profit.

So, I believe there is a g-factor that kicks into the publisher’s expectations at this point, that makes up those additional dollars and pushes the book into the black.  The g-factor is that group of people who buy the book as a goof.  The g-factor is composed of all the 45-year old men who received the Olson Twins’ biography as a vehicle for making fun of their “dirty old man” age;  the 25-year old girls who are given the Justin Bieber autobiography because they talk about him to a degree of borderline creepiness; and yes, the people who defend that “Jersey Shore” is a good show, are currently receiving a copy of “Bump-it” girls new novel.

The g-factor is projected in boardrooms and planning meetings of publishing houses everywhere.  Once the g-factor is achieved, every dollar made from the “$5 and under” rack the next year, is pure profit.  No I can’t prove it.  But I know I’m right.

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3 Comments leave one →
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