Saturday, April 20, 2024

Exclusive: Media Books Bomb as Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries, Jann Wenner Unauthorized Bio Disappoint


They get a lot of publicity. But media books by or about media types have a small audience– mainly at Michael’s Restaurant.

To wit: the two big media books of the fall have been sales failures. One of them is a surprise, the other not so much.

The big surprise is Tina Brown’s “Vanity Fair Diaries.” Released a month ago, the Diaries have failed to attract much interest from anyone other than maybe Tina’s former assistants. Total sales according to Book Scan as of December 3rd are a miserable 6,200.

Brown, who edited Vanity Fair from 1983 to 1992, is thought to have received at least a $200,000 advance. It’s notable that her book was published by Henry Holt and not Random House or Knopf. But still…Holt, part of McMillan, will wind up eating whatever was advanced. Brown’s publisher told the NY Post back in October that they were pumping out 100,000 first printing, so that could mean 94,000 copies are heading to the Strand Book Store soon.

The other book that got a lot of attention but failed to drum up business was Joe Hagan’s well reviewed biography of Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner. “Sticky Fingers,” released October 1st, has sold just 13,200 copies according to BookScan. While Hagan’s reporting was praised, it may be that Mr. and Mrs. America wasn’t so interested in Wenner’s escapades screwing over rock stars. Plus, he’d already been given the bio treatment years ago– when Rolling Stone was still popular– by Robert Draper. I didn’t understand why this was done again.

The Tina Brown debacle won’t have much impact on the about to exit Graydon Carter if he’s going to write his own Vanity Fair memoir. For one thing, he outlasted Brown at the job almost by three times the years. Plus, Brown’s stories were about greedy people who have long since faded like expensive wallpaper in the sunlight. Carter’s stories are contemporary.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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