Subscribe to The Horn Book

>Did you really think that invitation was because they liked you?

>I really like Gail Gauthier’s take on Jenna Bush’s book deal. Let’s wait to see the book (which will be about a Panamanian teen single mother with HIV) before we trash it. I for one am grateful it isn’t a picture book about self-esteem (the inexplicable praise given Jamie Lee Curtis notwithstanding), and in fact, sounds like something that teens might find both interesting and valuable.

I can’t even get worked up about the rumored six-figure advance. Anyone who believes that had HarperCollins not given a lot of money to Bush for her book, they would be putting it into more (equally unproven) “real” writers, hasn’t looked at the HarperCollins catalog lately, nor at that of any other large publicly-held publisher. They are giving that money to Jenna Bush in hopes that it will return threefold, in some form or another (whether from sales or other business opportunities the book and/or author may generate or suggest).

Any librarian or bookseller or reviewer who has ever accepted free food from a publisher should really think first about his or her own place in the publishing economy.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Anonymous says:

    >Are you alluding to the book preview parties that have been blogged elsewhere? I never knew there was such a thing until recently. Have they been around for a while? It seems that some bloggers think it’s perfectly fine to attend and blog the books that are fete-d (is that a word?) simply because they are upfront about their introduction to the books, but it all seems so…cheap. Blow a little smoke, get a little smoked salmon. Maybe I’m just naive.

  2. Roger Sutton says:

    >That’s one kind, yes, although I’ve never attended one of those (they’re mostly in New York). I was thinking more about the way publishers make it possible for award-committee members to get three square (and usually very fine) meals a day at conventions. I’ve gone to plenty of these; less often now that I’ve grown more anti-social and teetotaling, and while I can say that I’ve never been pressured, subtly or otherwise, to throw my support behind a book in exchange for the victuals, I know that the corporate purpose behind such events is to make the attendees feel kindly toward the sponsor. This is a big topic with a lot of sides, though–the system also makes attendance at ALA more possible for librarians who have to pay their own way, thus allowing for more diversity on the award committees. And those preview parties allow librarians to see and handle books they might not otherwise have the opportunity to do so. You can also argue that such contact with librarians also teaches the publishers more about what we are looking for in books. But, but, but–well, there are a lot of buts.

  3. GraceAnne says:

    >For those of you who may be listening at home, Roger and I go back a long way, to when he wrote a column for SLJ and I was his editor. I had one of those epiphanic moments this week when I assigned my YA literature graduate students to Read Roger (or a handful of his editorials) as an assignment.
    Roger, it made my head spin a bit, but it was also glorious fun.

  4. Roger Sutton says:

    >GraceAnne: we old.

  5. Melinda says:

    >Interesting. Actually, I was pleased to see that Jenna will be donating proceeds from the book to UNICEF. I’m all for that! And her book is coming from firsthand experience, even better. Now let’s hope she can do justice to the subject.

    Though I am a little itsy bitsy bit jealous that she gets to work with Kate Jackson right off the bat. Just a little.

  6. Roger Sutton says:

    >I’ve never met Kate Jackson, in either her Harper or Charlie’s Angels incarnation. But I love that she (if I have this right) is Maeve Binchy’s niece. (And I love me some Maeve Binchy, too.)

    Jenna’s announced donation is interesting, particularly as she has said she will be donating ALL of her profits to UNICEF. But if this is so, why was she (allegedly) holding out for a big advance? In any event, it’s nice that she’s charitable, I guess. Kind of a low-road way to sell books, though: I always feel morally blackmailed by books that would have you save the world by buying them.

    I have more issues with authors announcing what they intend to do with “a portion” of a book’s proceeds. I don’t think you get bragging rights for charity if you’re being cagey about what you’re giving.

  7. Anonymous says:

    >I’ve got a love-hate relationship with celebrity books. Right now I’m in the camp that (perhaps naively) hopes that some of the cash those celeb books may bring in will go to support worthy books that otherwise may never see daylight.

    But then the snarky side of me says grow up.


  8. Andy Laties says:

    >”I always feel morally blackmailed by books that would have you save the world by buying them.”

    Oh so you weren’t one of those people who bought that 1972 issue of National Lampoon with the picture of the cute dog on the cover and a pistol pointed at his head, the caption reading, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine We’ll Shoot This Dog.”?

    So — YOU’RE the reason they shot the cute doggy??

  9. Roger Sutton says:

    >Yes, and I even entered their “when will Mamie Eisenhower die?” sweepstakes. God, we’re old. And mean.

  10. Anonymous says:

    >consider the possibility that it was Jenna’s agent who pushed for the advance (not an excessive one for HC) and may indeed have suggested the charity donation. publishers frequently get proposals from all sorts of writers, promising “IF you take the book I will donate etc etc.” afamiliar gimmick

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind