— ARE ALL BOOK PROMOTIONS MIA? The first casualty of wall-to-wall TV war coverage just might be book publicity. With Gulf War II monopolizing airtime, most nonfiction authors are getting dumped from news-show lineups. (One exception: Jarhead scribe Anthony Swofford, who has appeared on Dateline NBC and CBS’ The Early Show to talk Iraq and to pitch his chronicle of the first Gulf War.) ”Honestly, if it’s not about Iraq or Saddam or a related subject, I don’t believe it’s going to air,” says Patty Neger, coordinating producer for ABC’s Good Morning America, which has already canceled its ”Read This!” book-club segment for April.
And that’s leaving publishers in the lurch. ”War isn’t good for publishing in general because it takes away many, many…opportunities that publishers depend on to get their books out into the public eye,” explains Gerry Howard, exec editor at large of Doubleday Broadway. Power Failure, a Doubleday tell-all from Enron whistle-blower Sherron Watkins and journalist Mimi Swartz, was to have been promoted on Today, Dateline NBC, Larry King Live, and NPR’s Fresh Air last month. But when war began, the bookings were postponed.
Or consider the fate of Trisha Meili’s I Am the Central Park Jogger, a memoir by the 1989 New York City rape victim. Until New York’s Daily News spilled the beans March 28, Scribner had planned to keep Meili’s identity a secret for an April 6 NBC special with Katie Couric. ”That [program date] is still set — I check every minute,” says Scribner VP of publicity Pat Eisemann.
Even a seemingly topical fit like Queen Noor, widow of Jordan’s King Hussein and telegenic author of the new memoir Leap of Faith, isn’t getting much TV time. Miramax Books publicity director Hilary Bass notes Her Majesty’s interests — humanitarian efforts and rebuilding in Iraq — don’t yet adhere to the media’s script. ”Right now, what all these shows want to talk about is the politics and violence, not bridge building,” says Bass. ”Believe me, I’ve asked.”