While we’ll all miss Jon Stewart after his last night hosting The Daily Show on Aug. 6, it might be book publishers who will be the saddest to see the political satirist go.
In an article for The Washington Post, Ron Charles spoke to various publishing insiders about The Daily Show’s influence. Kate Lloyd, Scribner’s associate director of publicity, told him that a spot with Stewart on the half-hour Comedy Central talk show the “the Holy Grail for book publicists.”
Stewart’s politically conscious audience responded to his book recommendations — most of which were serious nonfiction that illuminated complex social and political issues — in a big way. Authors who appeared on the show such as Reza Aslan, Neal Thompson, and Jeffrey Rosen consistently enjoyed a significant boost in sales.
Only time will tell if Trevor Noah will pay such attention to new nonfiction when he takes over hosting duties in September, or if his endorsement will have such an impact on the best seller list. As we say goodbye to Jon Stewart, here are some of the books he helped catapult to success.
Helaine Olen, Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry
After Stewart announced his retirement, journalist Olen wrote a piece for Slate in which she recalled the impact that a Daily Show appearance had on the sales of her own personal-finance book, and reflected sadly that the publishing world’s “best avenue for jump-starting book sales and making bestsellers is about to shut down.”
David Mitchell (translator for Naoki Higashida), The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
Stewart interviewed Cloud Atlas author Mitchell, who translated and wrote the introduction for Naoki Higashida’s memoir. “This is one of the most remarkable books I think I’ve ever read,” Stewart told Mitchell, and The Reason I Jump jumped to the top of the best seller list.
Sarah Chayes, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security
After Chayes appeared on The Daily Show, “sales leapt up significantly from the week before,” W.W. Norton’s senior director of publicity Elizabeth Riley told Charles in the Washington Post article. “What other show could do that for a book on global corruption?”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Coates appeared on the show earlier this summer and his nonfiction book, a meditation on race in America written as a letter to his adolescent son, currently sits at #9 on Amazon’s best seller list. While Coates is an extraordinarily prolific writer and his book was already doing well, he is a timely example of the wonderful Daily Show platform, and an indicator of the quality of writing that Stewart chose to promote.
Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: Microlending and the Battle Against World Poverty
Nobel Peace Prize winner Yunus appeared on the show to promote his memoir Banker to the Poor, which tells the story of his experience establishing Grameen Bank, which is based around his concept of microcredit.
Robyn Doolittle, Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story
Canadian journalist Robyn Doolittle broke the bizarre scandal surrounding Toronto Mayor Rob Ford with her book Crazy Town, and Jon Stewart broke Crazy Town by hosting Doolittle on The Daily Show.
Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Beah appeared on the show in 2007 to promote his memoir recounting his experience as a child solider in Sierra Leone. “I’ve rarely read a book that makes my heart hurt,” Stewart said, “but this really does.”
Ellen Schultz, Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers
Schultz, an investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal who exposed the corporate corruption at the center of the American retirement crisis with her 2011 book, told Olen that she experienced a significant spike in sales after an interview with Stewart.
Sam Sheridan, A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting
Sam Sheridan’s memoir is evidence of Stewart’s eclectic taste; not a political exposé, economic handbook, or social-issue manifesto, the book is Sheridan’s account of his exploration of fighting culture around the world — in which he was an enthusiastic participant.