By November 21, 2006 0 Comments Read More →

Celebrities' Insipid Memoirs

In the Guardian, John Crace discusses the British flood of “celebrities’ insipid memoirs.” The names–Gary Barlow, Victoria Beckham, Pete Bennett, David Blunkett, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Jade Goody, Jordan, Kerry Katona, Peter Kay, Chris Moyles, Gordon Ramsay, Wayne Rooney, Janet Street-Porter, and Terry Wogan–won’t all be familiar to American readers, especially the soccer players. But the problem–that the books are boring, and a lot of them don’t sell very well–is familiar:

What is going on? The obvious answer is that celebrity is being rapidly devalued. Assuming that anyone halfway interesting has already written their memoirs, publishers are left with the choice of either going back to the usual suspects for sloppy seconds or signing up the desperate and the dull. Naturally they do both.

And the effect of the problem is something we’ve been seeing for awhile now:

The real losers in all this are the readers. And not just because they already know everything of any interest before they get to page one. When a publisher hands over a large advance, it earmarks a proportionate amount of its marketing budget to selling the book. Celebs are the ones who are going to end up on chatshows and their memoirs will dominate bookshop displays, crowding out other authors.

My question is this: what can I do to help devalue celebrity even farther? Clearly there ought to be some tipping point at which celebrity memoirs won’t be worth publishing anymore.

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

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