Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No longer will I pay attention to this.

I have come to the conclusion that certain things are better ignored. You see a quote from the guy from Maxim on the cover of a DVD - ignore it. (After all, they fired their last guy for creating quotes specifically in order to get on DVD cases. Who wrote a good review of Norbit? The Maxim guy.) And now something else. What, exactly, does it take to get the words "New York Times Bestseller" on the cover of your book? I've tried to look this up and there is conflicting information - either the books on the list get there based on wholesale numbers, or they get there based on the actual number of books purchased. I can't tell which it really is. If it's the wholesale numbers, then and book with a successful marketing campaign that convinces Chapters to purchase a million copies in the expectation that it will sell will make the list. And because it is on the list, it will therefore sell. Makes sense, right?

I just read a book called The Color Of Death, which was just dreadful. It was purchased for me on the basis of the "New York Times Bestseller" caption on the cover. And the person who bought me the book thought - hey, this book must be good, because it was a New York Times bestseller. And Eric likes good books. All the pieces fit. And that made perfect sense. Because all the pieces DID fit. Except that the book really sucked, which caused me to look into this more. Now, there are quotes on the back from the Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune praising this novel, which are probably a better benchmark. The fact that they are wrong is simply a matter of opinion.

The Color Of Death is 425 pages long, but it could have been trimmed to 250 if the author, Elizabeth Lowell, had cut back on the will-they-or-won't-they sexual tension between the two protagonists. Filling chapter after chapter with things like "he could smell her hair as she passed in front of him, and he wanted her sooooooooo much, and it was all he could do to keep from grabbing her and throwing her down on the floor and giving her the ol' one-two-three"...OK, I'm paraphrasing here. But we get several chapters with nothing but this. Even after the two of them finally DO have sex, we still get several more chapters of this. If it wasn't for this stuff, the book would be neat - it's all about the precious gem trade, and makes me even less likely to eveer buy jewelery, and there is an interesting mystery and some killings and some brutal violence. And a little sexual tension would go a long way. A LOT of sexual tension brings this book to a grinding halt. Over and over and over.

I'm still not sure about the New York Times list. I still don't really know what qualifies a book. And in this day and age, with fewer and fewer people reading books, you don't have to be Harry Potter to make the list. Maybe now any book that sells 50,000 copies can make the list. After all, with slipping album sales worldwide, that's all it takes to make the Billboard charts.

No comments:

Post a Comment