Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The book and the book's buzz . . .

Sarah Palin's book arrives today, an event in either political or pop culture history (depending upon your  assessment of Ms. Palin ). Scanning my morning's worth of newspapers, it appears Op-Ed columnist Eugene Robinson is correct when he says in today's Washington Post: "It's futile to try to ignore Palin . . ."

It looks to me as though Ms. Palin's book tour is what has really gotten the media's attention. The tour began yesterday on Oprah's couch. It was such a big deal that, The Washington Post blogged about it live. . . 

What I really want to know is how the legendary New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani, who reviewed Going Rogue in Saturday's paper, got hold of a copy before today's release date. When I talked to NPR yesterday, digital arts editor Joe Matazzoni asked if I'd be willing to read the book today and write a paragraph for NPR.org. I, of course, said "you betcha!" But then so did Andrea Seabrook, so naturally she got the assignment. In NPR-speak, it's called being Bigfooted and it's an accepted fact of a freelancer's life. I'll post what she says tomorrow.

If I'd gotten the assignment, it would have meant going out this morning and buying my own copy of Going Rogue, closing the door to my office, immersing myself in Sarah Palin. There were no advance copies floating around anywhere, Joe said, and NPR is usually flooded with advance copies of books. Heck, I'm usually flooded with advance copies.

But the rules that apply to ordinary mortals, even network NPR mortals, evidently don't apply to Ms. Kakutani. After all, her clout in the publishing world is so hefty that NPR actually did a piece on how authors refer to having been Kakutanied if she gives them a bad review. Probably all Ms.Kakutani needed to do to get an advance copy of Going Rogue was to ask for one. Or maybe she didn't even have to ask--one simply arrived by messenger. Gift-wrapped.

I'm curious if any of you who are not on assignment plan to buy and read the book. If it is as big a cultural event as all the coverage indicates, don't we ignore the indications of that bigness at our own peril?

NOTE: Speaking of NPR.org, I blogged about a month ago about being assigned a profile of novelist A.S. Byatt. It went up yesterday. In case you're interested, here's a link.


  1. I heard yesterday that R.R. Donnelly in Harrisonburg was the printer (or one of the printers?) of the book, and that security at the site was extreme. Much as when they printed a Harry Potter book some time ago. Anyone know for sure? I guess it's something of a good sign these days that a book is a hot enough commodity that it must be guarded against heists.

  2. Okay, Tom, I'm on the story! Or at least, I'm TRYING to be on the story. I called R.R. Donnelly here in Harrisonburg, who referred me to home office (Chicago area) public relations. When I asked for a "confirm or deny" I was told that only Doug Fitgerald, Executive Vice President of Communications, could do that and he was out of the office. I left a voice-mail message . . .

  3. Okay, I heard back from Mr. Fitzgerald. He said, "No comment."

  4. No plans to buy it. If it turns out she's a front runner in 2012, I'll take a look, but I'm not putting any money on that right now. I'm thinking the hoopla will die down soon. . . .