Hollywood's Big Memoirs: How's Arnold Schwarzenegger Selling?
This story first appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
This fall, not all celebrity-penned tomes are created equal, as certain categories have caught on (male rockers) and others collapsed (hasta la vista, Arnold).
ROCKERS: Thanks to aging baby boomers, the rocker bio has evolved into its own genre (think Behind the Music: The Book). This fall's two biggest rock music memoirs -- Neil Young's Waging Heavy Peace (Blue Rider, Sept. 25) and Pete Townshend's Who I Am (Harper, Oct. 8) -- continue the trend. Young sold 36,000 copies during the first three weeks, while Townshend moved 18,000 in his debut week. Just out: Bassist John Taylor's well-reviewed In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran (Dutton, Oct. 16).
TALKERS: Authors clamor to get on The Colbert Report and The O'Reilly Factor because those shows help sell books, but hosting the shows provides a big boost as well. Stephen Colbert's most recent effort, America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't (Grand Central, Oct. 2), has already moved 33,000 copies. Bill O'Reilly's Killing Kennedy (Henry Holt, Oct. 2) tops The New York Times' list with an impressive 204,000 copies sold.
ANTONIO MENDEZ: Thanks to Ben Affleck's Argo, the real-life CIA agent's long out-of-print memoir, The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA (William Morrow), is racking up big sales as a 99-cent ebook-only reissue.
ARNOLD: Appearances on 60 Minutes and The Daily Show goosed first-week sales of Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story (Simon & Schuster, Oct. 1) to 21,000 copies. But second-week sales for the Schwarzenegger tell-all plummeted to 6,000.
LADY ROCKERS: Book buyers failed to muster the same enthusiasm for female rock stars as they did for the boys. Ann and Nancy Wilson's history of their band Heart, Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock & Roll (It Books, Sept. 18), has rung up just 12,000 sales despite a compelling story and a celebrity marriage gone bad (Nancy's to Cameron Crowe). Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir (Atria, Sept. 18) has sold just 3,000 copies so far.
'80s STARS: Amazon's splashy push into publishing its own books with the high-profile signing of Penny Marshall (for $800,000) stumbled, with My Mother Was Nuts (Sept. 18) selling just 7,000 copies amid a freeze-out by brick-and-mortar stores. And books from actors Tony Danza (I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High, Crown, Sept. 11) and Andrew McCarthy (The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down, Free Press, Sept. 18) flopped.