It's already building
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard that Bill Clinton’s new book My Life comes out today. There’s been a lot of hype. The picture above shows the lines of fans waiting for a Manhattan book signing.
To be honest, I’m sad about it. Not because it’s Bill Clinton. I’m on the fence about him—I feel like he was a good President, but I don’t like him. I’m sad because I wish people were excited about reading.
The line around the block isn’t about his awesome book. From what I hear, at 900 something pages, it’s daunting and loses its steam around page 600. That’s not why people are there. People are there because it’s Bill Clinton.
The same thing happened with Madonna. When her children’s book, The English Roses came out, there were lines around the block. The book turned out to be pretty good. She teamed with Jeffrey Fulvimari, a fantastic illustrator, and the book has a Bratz learn a lesson feel. That's not the point, though. Fans were there because they wanted to see Madonna, not because they were excited about literature. (I read the book in an airport bookstore.)
In recent years, the only fiction book that has generated this crazy hype is the Harry Potter series. I love how these books captures the imagination. When the Harry Potter books are released, there are lines around the block and everyone, children and adults, are in costume. JK Rowling is an international recognized celebrity, pretty rare for authors.
I know it’s a business. Knopf wouldn’t have given Clinton over a million dollar advance, almost unheard of in the industry, without knowing there was a desire for this book. I know I’m greedy, but I want more. More authors getting recognized celebrity status. More publishers dumping money into authors. More hype about reading.
My dream is that it becomes the norm for people to line the streets for new releases. No matter if the author is a former president or not.