Today in publishing and literature: Nobody's buying celebrity memoirs, the rare book market is booming, and another tell-all book by a former lobbyist in Jack Abramoff's firm.
Of the 4,838 best-selling books in the United Kingdom in 2011, 1,695 of them -- about 35% -- were released prior to 2010. The data from booktracking service Nielsen BookScan echoes their findings from last week about the U.S. market for print books, in which only eight of the top twenty best-selling titles this past year actually came out in 2011. After studying the chart, The Guardian's John Dugdale says it's obvious "some genres have lost the appeal that once made them super-sellers," singling out the "baffling" obsession publishers have with showbiz memoirs, even though "this year's second-best performer only came 88th." The hope was that comedic titles like The Inbetweeners Yearbook and Steve Coogan's I, Partridge would be some of the top selling titles of the year, writes Dugdale, "but this manic optimism similarly reflects a time-warped mindset," since both titles failed to crack the top 100. [The Guardian]
The ten most expensive sales of the year for Abe Books brought in a whopping combined total of $220,330 for the online rare book retailer. The priciest title was a first edition of Karl Marx's Das Kapital, which sold for $51,739. That was followed by a signed first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, which went for $25,000, ten issues of Sierra Magazine priced at $22,915, and a first edition of The Hobbit with "a complete dust jacket featuring the requisite ink correction to the 'e' of 'Dodgeson' on the rear flap" that set the buyer back $20,447. [Abe Books via Galleycat]
Jack Abramoff isn't the only convicted crook who's writing a book about his fast-and-loose lobbying days. Neil Volz, the former chief of staff to Ohio Rep. Bob Ney who joined Abramoff's lobbying firm in 2002 and was sentenced to 24 months probation in 2007 after entering a guilty plea on one count of conspiracy and testifying against multiple members of "Team Abramoff" has written a book of his own. Currently working as a janitor and living in Florida, Volz has self-published an e-book called Into The Sun about his experiences in Washington. On his Web site, Volz says the book is a memoir about how "an idealistic college student from Ohio" got wrapped up in a major corruption investigation, and promises that the text is "both [a] personal portrait of hope, loyalty, failure and faith, as well as a larger story about how Washington works - and how it doesn’t." Volz emphasized that the book he's written is very special and unique in an interview with Talking Points Memo. "This is not your typical Washington book, it’s not about partisan gains, it’s about relationships." And hope, loyalty, failure, and faith. Don't forget about that. [TPM]
A federal judge has ruled that Marvel Comics owns the rights to the character Ghost Rider, not Gary Friedrich, a former Marvel writer who claims he created the undead motorcycle riding anti-hero, with a "skeletal head that sometimes had fire blazing from it," per the AP. According to Judge Katherine Forest, Friedrich had been pursuing legal action ever since he found out that Marvel had plans to feature the character in two very silly movies with Nicolas Cage, but apparently he "signed an agreement with Marvel in 1978 relinquishing rights in exchange for the possibility of additional future freelance work," thus giving up any claim to the character. [AP]
Today in tell-alls in need of a publisher: Pam Behan, the Kardashian family's long-time nanny, is apparently "shopping a tell-all book about her time with the K-squad before they got famous." According to TMZ, the Kardashian girls were "very fond" of Behan, which hasn't stopped her from promising to reveal "intimate details" about them in the book. The report says "several major literary agents" have been pitched on the book, but it's "unclear" if any of them have interest in repping the project. [TMZ]