Keeping Up With The Cash Cow: On Giving the Jenners a Book Deal

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Stupid celebrity book deals are nothing new. Snooki got one and it ended up on the New York Times best-seller list. A number of the stars of Made In Chelsea and The Only Way Is Essex have written their memoirs, despite most of them being under the age of 30. Gloria Vanderbilt wrote an erotic novel, then made her son edit it (poor Anderson Cooper). If you want to make money quickly and effectively then the chances are getting someone with relative popularity with the general public to write (or “write”) a book will accomplish that. It’s not a fool-proof business model (so few of those exist in publishing these days) but it’s as close to one as you can get without being psychic. Famous person with sizeable fan base plus a popular commodity equals profit, so it goes.

Complaining about the Kardashians is like complaining about the unfairness of capitalism itself. It’s kind of futile but dammit if it isn’t cathartic. The ‘famous for being famous’ celebrity isn’t a new phenomenon. Look at Andy Warhol’s favoured inner circle or Zsa Zsa Gabor. What the Kardashians have done is parlay the tenuous grasp they had to celebrity (a famous father and a sex tape) and parlay it into a multi-million dollar business empire that reaches every corner possible and encompasses every member of their large family, and that was before Kanye West came along. They’ve got a few books out, including a novel “written” by Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, and a biography by Kris Jenner, and they’ve sold respectably, just like their clothing line and perfumes. Kris Jenner may be the most twisted modern day equivalent we have to Mrs Bennet, and damn her if she ain’t gonna make sure all her kids get a slice of the pie regardless of talent.

That’s why it’s not surprise that the youngest girls, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, have released a YA novel, titled Rebels: City of Indra. The chances are they let Maya Sloan do all the writing (who, in a moment of the stars aligning, also worked on the book version of Rich Kids of Instagram) but that doesn’t really matter. YA is popular right now, and one of the few areas of publishing consistently making a profit, and the Jenner sisters are teenagers with a built in fan-base of the same age. Why wouldn’t you give them a book deal? Even if it were proven that neither of them could read nor spell their own names, nobody in the industry would care. The sisters claim they had the idea for the story and they may well have done, then outsourced the tough job to those with the necessary skills. That’s also not new. I don’t begrudge them for jumping at this chance, like they are currently doing with a shoe and handbag line, even if all they do is put their names to it. I probably would have done the same thing at their age.

But will it sell? Even with my reasoning above, there’s no guarantee that teenagers will jump at this. It’s currently ranked 1626 on Amazon US, with a 1.7 average star rating. That rating goes up to 2.65 on Goodreads, with a chunk of those 1 star ratings coming from people exasperated by its mere existence. The Kardashian clan may have their fans but they also have their critics in equal measure. The challenge will be to see if the fans come out over the coming weeks (although most of the big book sales happen within the first month after its debut) and if morbid curiosity pushes people to purchase. The book’s also supposed to be the first in a series, but then again, so was Tyra Banks’s YA masterpiece Modelland. We’ve been waiting for that one for 3 years now. Modelland, unlike Rebels: City of Indra, made the New York Times best-seller list too. Sounds like Maya Sloan has a lot of work still to do.

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