please note: i have never seen an episode of JERSEY SHORE, mostly because i don’t have a TV that does anything other than play DVDs.
so Snooki got a book deal. and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. OH WOE IS PUBLISHING! ANOTHER “CELEBRITY” THROWAWAY INSULT TO THE READING PUBLIC! WHYYYYYYYYYYY …. etc etc etc.
except that: i am totally on board with this.
the fact that someone like Snooki, who is famous for being on a reality show (one that, as far as i understand, is not exactly sparkling with literary wit), wants/can have a book deal means that publishing is far from dead.
seriously — let’s break it down. either A) Snooki went out looking for a book deal; or B) someone approached Snooki about a book deal and she said yes.
if we go with scenario A, then this means that someone who is not a literary type believes they have things to say that are best said in the medium of a book. someone who already has a platform, a following, and many options as to ways to increase her presence has decided that a book is the next piece of the puzzle for her, when her options as far as promotion are almost endless in terms of media and technology. (i’m not saying that everyone wants to have Snooki on their show, or that she can get whatever publicity she wants — just pointing out that she has a lot of options as far as publicity goes, and a book is not exactly one of the most obvious choices). if you take it a step further, which i think is reasonable, this says to me that Snooki believes that a book will be good for her image. that it will increase her public presence, that she has a story to tell (ZOMG IT’S A NOVEL. mind: blown). the fact that someone FAR outside the literary pale believes this is music to my ears, because it means that i am not crazy to be trying to build a career in books — it means that books are so embedded in our culture that, even as entertainment and technology collide, people in the limelight still think of them as important and worthy of pursuing.
but maybe this wasn’t her idea. maybe some executive at a board meeting thought: “I know what will save publishing: a Snooki book!” fine and dandy! because that in turn means that people who are also outside the literary pale are buying and reading books. are they reading the new Franzen? or Bolaño? nope, probably not (although maybe the Franzen, thanks to Oprah). but if a publisher believes that the advance and the marketing and publishing will be worth the payout (and is probably counting on a big return) then that means that books are not an elitist endeavor, that not only those attached to the industry, or snobby people, or students who are assigned books, or [insert NO ONE READS ANYMORE tripe here] are reading. all those surveys can take a running jump — if a Snooki book is worth it to a publisher (which, by the way, i will bet good money that it earns out and then some), then people — the men/women on the street — are reading.
now, obviously there are doubts as to the QUALITY of such a book. but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.
and i suppose at this point someone will pull the “well maybe people are reading, but WHAT they are reading is more important” card, to which i say, FOR SHAME. judge not, lest ye be judged. our tastes are our own, and no one should be belittled for what they enjoy. it’s easy to take potshots at popular books, and i have increasingly less respect for people who do it regularly.