Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Fame Makes Best-Sellers . . . Usually Not Vice Versa
An entertaining and fact-filled review of the history of American best-sellers (or as she corrects the term, "fast-sellers") by Ruth Franklin. Most sobering observation: "A novel by a new writer has a smaller chance of becoming a best seller today than at any other time in history." Of course, it helps if you are someone like Tina Fey or George W. Bush, famous from non-literary activities (in the case of President Bush, extremely non-literary). The book business, much as we may love it (and with occasional huge exceptions as with the Harry Potter phenomenon), is increasingly an appendage to broader American culture rather than its core.