Talking of bestsellers (see previous blog entry) another guaranteed superbook is on the horizon. Apparently, Oprah Winfrey has just landed US$12 million advance from publishers Simon & Schuster to write a book about keeping weight under control. She’ll be writing the book in conjunction with her Personal Trainer, Bob Greene. This is a record breaking advance for a non-fiction book, taking out Bill Clinton who held the record for a book deal until now with his 2004 autobiography.
But to me, that is far from the most incredible aspect of the deal. Paying Oprah twelve million US dollars for a book on weight control is like paying Osama Bin Laden a similar sum for a book on peaceful negotiations and religious harmony. Oprah Winfrey is the poster-girl for yo-yo dieting. Her weight goes up and down more than a busy girl’s pants when the navy is in town. She has never successfully kept her weight under control and there’s no evidence that she will this time. In fact, I’d be happy to bet on the contrary.
It just goes to show that the big publishers, like the big movie houses, play the marketing game regardless of a person’s qualifications. Oprah is big business and big money, especially in the US, where the slightest comment from her can make an audience whoop and whistle like imbeciles. Those same people would rush out to buy anything she wrote, just because it’s her, and that is the holy grail of marketing. It’s a licence to print money, which is why US$12 million is a sound investment on the part of Simon & Schuster.
Next, I want to see the release of a book by George Bush and John Howard called Doing What’s Right By The People That Elected Us. They’re as qualified to write about that as Oprah is to write about weight control.