What Imus Exit Means for Publishing


By Carmen Comment

The media firestorm continues in the wake of Don Imus‘s firing from both MSNBC and CBS as a result of the inappropriate comment heard round the world, but only now is publishing waking up to one harsh by-product: the loss of what’s become a bona fide sales boost for many a non-fiction writer.

The New York Post‘s Terry Keenan spells things out more clearly with a comment one anonymous agent told her earlier this week: “The Imus impact was worth hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars to the book publishing industry.” PW Editor-in-Chief Sara Nelson agrees with this party line, and points out that “it demonstrates all too clearly how dependent the publishing business has become on celebrity endorsements.” But is Imus’s worth really all that great? Consider North Carolina bookseller Jennifer Beall‘s take in the Talkback section of PW. “Maybe it’s just the places I’ve lived but in 15 years of bookselling I’ve never had a customer who asked for a title because they heard about it on Imus.”