Publishers use all kinds of publicity and marketing tricks to sell books. They toil over their mailing lists to decide which reviwers to solicit to write up something nice about a title, they beg radio and television hosts to interview an author, they even push authors in the direction of key events to get their name out there. But one tactic they don't employ--and perhaps should since it seems to work like a charm!--is to somehow get a celebrity just to casually tote a book around so the papparazzi can get a nice juicy shot of it. See Angelina Jolie above, for example.
These bookworm celebs vary from week-to-week: Angelina, James Franco, Paris Hilton. But the one celeb who publishers know can make or break a book, and always will have that ability, is Oprah. Her book club is probably the most widely known and trusted book club in the world. If she likes a book, you can bet your boots that thousands of people are going out the very next day to their local booksellers to buy it. Her choices--like Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett in 2007--instantly skyrocket in sales and climb their way up the bestseller lists. If Oprah wants it, so does everyone else.
But it seems she has some hearty competition. In President Obama.
Today, Politico.com reported that all five books on Obama's "summer reading list" have shot up in gross sales since it was announced:
The Way Home" shot up to No. 328 on Amazon.com's Best Seller list TuesdayAnd even though the likelihood of the President reading every page in his summer reading list is slim ("at a collective 2,300 pages, Obama would have to pour through 300 pages a day while on vacation," acording to politico.com), people are racing to their computers and clicking away at Amazon.com to read along with the Pres. Just as they did when he was spotted reading The Post-American World by Fareed Zakarie.
from No. 33,349 when Obama's list was first announced Monday. The others
followed suit. "A Lush Life"? From No. 74,289 to No. 10,295 on Wednesday.
"Hot, Flat and Crowded"? From No. 231 to No. 41 on Wednesday. "John Adams"?
No. 14,301 to No. 7,067 on Wednesday. And "Plainsong" rocketed to to as high
as No. 189 from its Monday position of No. 8,155.
Ethical or not, aware of it or not, celebs have all the power when it comes to selling products. Just as Michael Jordan helped Nike sell millions of shoes, familiar faces from the President to Oprah to Angelina Jolie and are helping to sell books like it's nobody's business.
If only us normal folks' opinions were held in such high esteem.