Despite Media Blitz, Snooki's 'Shore Thing' Fails to Sell
by Shirley Halperin
1/27/2011 3:50pm PST
When Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi’s book A Shore Thing, was released just after the New Year, the reality star-turned-author went on a promotional tear, hitting a slew of major talk shows including The View, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Show with David Letterman. The latter, perhaps looking to prove that Snooki can not only write, but read, even allowed her to recite the nightly top 10 list. Subject: “Top Ten Reasons to Buy the New Snooki book” (see video below).
Snooks also sat for several book signings in cities like Los Angeles (The Grove), New York City (Columbus Circle), Brick, New Jersey and Huntington, Long Island, and even at places where she wasn’t physically present, like Saturday Night Live, she made an appearance by way of a punchline. All this while Jersey Shore was racking up the best ratings of its three-season life, to the tune of some 8.45 million viewers for its January 6 premiere, MTV’s most watched telecast ever.
So with a devoted audience of millions, even more casual TV viewers and endless plugs, how many copies did A Shore Thing (Gallery) ultimately sell? Only 8,998 since its January 4 release, according to BookScan. Snooki’s Shore roommate Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is looking at even lower numbers. His book Here's the Situation: A Guide to Creeping on Chicks, Avoiding Grenades, and Getting in Your GTL on the Jersey Shore (Gotham), has only moved 12,200 copies and it came out in early November. And this doesn’t bode well for JWoww, either. Her forthcoming tome, The Rules According to JWOWW: Shore-Tested Secrets on Landing a Mint Guy, Staying Fresh to Death, and Kicking the Competition to the Curb (William Morrow), is due out in February.
It begs the question: what are book publishers spending to sign these “authors” and will they manage to break even? Talk to anyone in the book industry, and you’ll inevitably hear that advances -- and sales -- are not what they used to be. A celebrity on the level of, say, a Britney Spears can command as much as $1 million, but most personalities, especially reality stars, come in significantly lower. Think: a tenth of that amount. American Idol’sSanjaya, for example, received around $100,000 to write his 2009 book Dancing to the Music in My Head: Memoirs of the People's Idol (Pocket). By these metrics and based on a cover price of $24, Snooki would have sold just enough to fulfill her financial obligation to her publisher, minus the costs of travel, hair, makeup… oops, back in the red again.
So why isn’t the public buying Snooks’ tale of love and tequila in greater numbers? Says one publishing executive: “The book didn’t do as well as it could have because rather than a tell-all, it was disguised as a novel.” The 16 one-star customer reviews on Amazon probably didn’t help either – though, to be fair, 12 readers gave the Snook book five stars.
But it’s not all bad news for reality stars and book purveyors. The past few years has seen a few notable successes, most recently by the Kardashian sisters whose Kardashian Konfidential (St. Martins) has moved 109,500 units since its November 23 release.
Still, that pales in comparison to the queen of reality branding and the person who made being famous for being famous a lucrative full-time global job: Paris Hilton. Her 2004 book, Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose (Fireside), for which she was paid $250,000, according to a source, was a New York Times best seller and has sold over 1 million copies worldwide, which just goes to show you don’t have to know a lot about anything to write a little about something.
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