PUBLISHER Rizzoli, having championed books such as The Invisibles, a collection of vintage photographs of gay couples from the 1900s to the 1960s published this past May, and forthcoming in September, illustrator Maira Kalman’s book Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag, which “introduces children and adults to the myriad ways design touches our lives,” is looking to touch readers with another title, Selfish. A new book just announced from Kim Kardashian, price tag twenty bucks.
According to the LA Times, Rizzoli and Kardashian will publish a 352-page hardcover book composed entirely of selfies in April 2015. Some of which have already been published on Instagram, as well as some “never-before-seen personal images.” Likely, these will look like selfies.
Kim began compiling “sexy” photos for hubby Kanye West on a trip to Southeast Asia with the clan, but what was to originally be a gift to West on Valentine’s Day shortly thereafter blossomed into a business opportunity.
On an episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” Kim said, “It ended up turning out so cool that we come up with this idea to do a book, a selfie book.” Elaborating, “And so, I’m going to make some super-racy. I mean, every girl takes full pictures of their [rear] in the mirror…I might share some of them.” From which we gather there will be belfies in line with the white bathing suit mirror selfie she posted to her Instagram that quickly went viral.
Cool, we don’t know about, but the idea is certainly obvious. Which is not bad if you’re looking to turn words or selfies into dollars. Obvious, and accessible, sell.
Young Adult novels are taking the tween world by storm. At this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books held in April at USC, celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe took over one of the main stages with Chanel CCs hanging from her neck, the crowd rapt to her every word. Zoe like many other reality stars– Lauren Conrad for example– that have transitioned from TV personality to “author,” are proving that more than anything, dwindling publishing houses rely on personalities with built-in followings to bolster book sales. A large cult of Twitter followers is better than a hand-written recommendation from Joan Didion.
Reality TV authors are like click-bait for the publishing world, and Kim is not the first Kardashian to venture into the book market. Her mother, and famously her manager, Kris Jenner, published the book Kris Jenner…and All Things Kardashian, in September 2012. The book was a New York Times best seller, despite being called a boring ego-trip. A sentiment that that Selfish, clearly and unabashedly echoes. However, at least Jenner had the discernment to hire a ghostwriter. And use words.
If anything, rather than berate this flush of material, it feels appropriate to come up with new names for the “authors” of these “books.” If selfie can make it into the dictionary, then surely if we recast these books as say, bookies, and these authors as fauxthers it might be possible to reclaim the literary space without feeling so angry about it all. Because at least part of the derision that arises when discussing such releases is that we actually have to refer to a book of selfies as a book. And a personality who did not write their own material as an author. But if it’s a bookie by a fauxther, it might be easier to shrug off. Laugh at. A rose by any other name here will not smell as sweet– even if it does sell.
So will Kim’s book of selfies sell? Based on past sales of reality TV stars bookies, it doesn’t appear as though Rizzoli is betting on the wrong horse. In the world of reality Kim Kardashian is a thoroughbred.