The Difficulty of Marketing Bush’s Memoir
Honestly, how do you sell a memoir by one of the most unpopular presidents of the world’s most powerful country, which was also hated at that time do to decisions made by its hated ruler? There have been few figures as powerful and as despised in recent memory as George Bush, so how does one go about marketing a memoir by such a generally disregarded man? This has to be the thought process of Crown publishers as they recently unveiled the cover and title of the forthcoming Bush memoir, Decision Points, set to publish on November 9, 2010. The mocking has already begun, it seemed within minutes of the announcement. Gawker has posted a series of cover images that could be used instead of the cover photo of Bush looking concerned and contemplative (although only Bush could make contemplative and concerned also look like confused and vacant).
But seriously, Crown publishers, how do you plan on doing this and selling the book? It had to be someone, true. There had to be one publishing company that stepped up and put the words to paper and put the thing in bookstores where it will inevitably be vandalized beyond recognition. But how are you making this palatable for the American book buyer? No one will want to be seen in public reading this book. The first step seems to be controlling the message Bush put into words. As noted by Crown, the structure of the memoir will be a little atypical. Rather than the sprawling expose we all expected, the book will be a telling of “key decisions in his life,” from Sept. 11 to the 2000 election, to quitting drinking and his relationship with his family. Focus on specific events and tell the story we know of the Bush administration–this time with feeling!
Who is the audience? Crown must have decided that there is an audience otherwise they would have never published the book. As far as liberals go, there is no way they are picking up a copy and paying $35 for it. Maybe they will take a peek in the Barnes & Noble when no one is looking and then go wash their hands many, many times. Conservatives have tried to distance themselves from Bush ever since he was not their boss anymore. So maybe they will buy it and read it in darkened rooms, but they’ll never admit they are reading it unless it becomes cool among conservatives to admit you are reading it. Then it will be the sacred text for about two weeks on Fox, replacing, of course, the Quran. It goes without saying that the international audience is not going to bite at this memoir. Are there still Bush supporters out there in this country who will rush out to buy the memoir? There are very powerful and well connected conservative book clubs, but I can’t see these book clubs, who are politically motivated, putting Decision Points front and center on their homepages. This is the guy that blew it all for conservatives; he sullied their name and let Obama become president and allowed the Democrats to take over Congress. Why tout his inner-most thoughts as if he was a welcome member of their group?
Maybe the book will reveal something new about the Bush legacy rather than seeking to cement his reputation against inescapable truths. For Crown, let’s hope so. For Bush, I am not sure we are ready to hear from him again, if readers are ready to accept his side of the story as he examines his own life. I am not sure people really care enough about Bush anymore to read his Decision Points.