Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breathe: They're Just Books

At least once a week, it comes to my attention in the publishing industry that people just need to calm down. There is always some drama or another--a reviewer put a spoiler in the synopsis, when they promised not to, or a bookseller put a book on-sale early, etc. etc. More often than not, the drama comes from angry authors, not publishers. But every so often, publishers go just as crazy.

For example, when The New York Times leaked bits about Ted Kennedy's upcoming memoir, True Compass, Hachette execs had a cow. They're so mad that they've hired a PI to find out what bookseller sold books early. And Hachette's main concern: that consumers will be confused.

Leon Neyfakh of The New York Observer reports:

All hell broke loose at the Hachette Book Group building last week when The New York Times published a story detailing some of the most newsworthy bits contained in the late Ted Kennedy’s forthcoming memoir, True Compass. A spokeswoman for the paper said Times reporters had purchased multiple copies of the book at a bookstore the day before, and, much to the chagrin of Twelve publisher Jonathan Karp and his publicity director, Cary Goldstein, quickly broke the strict embargo that the imprint had tried to impose on it. The trouble was, of course, that the $8 million memoir wouldn’t be hitting stores for another 11 days, and all the publicity generated by the Times piece—not to mention the glowing review by Michiko Kakutani that ran the following day—was likely to confuse and frustrate customers who went looking for it in the meantime.

Read the rest of the story HERE

Now, everyone just needs to take a deep big breath. These things happen all the time. Embargoes are constantly being broken; books often are put on-sale early. Yes, not always ones of this caliber, and yes, the bookseller should be given a slap on the wrist, but things like this are bound to happen somewhere if a product is delivered to a store prior than an on-sale date. It just so happens that this time, the book fell into the hands of NYT instead of a midwestern father of two. Come on, a PI really isn't necessary. Just as video stores are known to make DVDs available early, it can happen in books too. It's unfortunate that things haven't gone according to plan. It's not as though the books are being leaked online for free, not being reported, or royalties not being fed into. It's just all happening a little sooner than expected.

We all know something like this is not going to negatively affect much--if anything--especially given the leak caused a *gasp* fantastic review to be printed. Besides, consumers expect reviewers and the media to receive early copies of a book. It's protocol. Give people a little bit of credit. And if they're confused, they'll figure it out. Now, if the Times claimed the book was available (which as far as I can tell, it didn't), that's another story. But even so, a retraction can be printed and stories can be pulled from online resources at least. Furthermore, nothing can be done about it now. Instead of hiring PIs and throwing fits, why not use the early publicity to your advantage?

Just repeat after me, folks: It's not the end of the world. THEY'RE JUST BOOKS.

1 comment:

  1. And as you mention, the NY Times talking about a book is a good thing.