Publishers release "advance copies" for the Literary Elite to have before the masses/Oprah ruins them for you. Being spotted with one sometimes merits "status"...that we're about to ruin. Today's selection is TwitterWit, The Big Book of Collected Tweets!
Basically the term refers to an advance reader's copy of a highly anticipated book that hasn't been published yet. If you have one it means you're special: either a proud member of the exclusive club known as the publishing industry, a distinguished literary critic, a friend of the author's, or in some cases even an intern at a cultural magazine.
Concept: It's a book of Tweets. Okay, actually, it's the first authorized collection of Tweets, to be unleashed on the literary community by HarperCollins on August 25, moved up from its September 8th release date. It claims to be an "Authorized Collection of the Funniest Tweets of All Time," right there on the cover, but not the first, because New York Times columnist David Pouge's book of Tweets, while not "official," comes out on Wednesday, August 12 (which probably explains HarperCollins moving up the release). Douglas' book has a foreword by Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, and a swell introduction by Douglas, in which he explains that Twitter is "practically destined for...the witty one-liner." Concept Grade: C-. It's a book of Tweets, many of which were curated through a dedicated website. But there is longer-than-140-character insight from Biz Stone and the guy who put all of these together. So: that counts for something.
Numbers: Douglas' book will retail for $12.99, while Pogue's book will sell for $12.95 (SNAP), but you can buy both from Amazon for, like, $20, ha. Douglas made the deal back in February for a rumored mid five-figures that I'd heard was at $64K. Douglas assured me over email that it was "a good deal less" than that. He continued:
What I did get was very generous of Harper, especially since Twitter wasn't as completely media-dominant as it is now. It's been a very lucky summer for them, for me, and for the contributors who wrote this book over the course of two years.
So they should've tossed Douglas more money for being on the Zeitgeist bandwagon, no? There are, at last count, 634 Tweets in the book, so you're paying about two cents a Tweet. Assuming Douglas' "good deal less" was at least more than half of the $64K number, like, say, the $50K number Ryan Tate heard. If that were the case, Douglas would've received $78.86 per Tweet. Not bad. Even at $40K, Douglas would've received $63.09 per Tweet. Plus the introduction, of course. Numbers Grade: C-. Despite being a relative bargain per Tweet, the economy still sucks! Also, they're Tweets, you can get these for free. But Douglas sure cashed in, legwork on the intro (which again: is good!) aside. [Special shout-out to Drew Grant of ASSME for helping contribute to the counting effort.]
Industry Hype: It's a book of Tweets. At best, it's a stocking stuffer, and at worst, it's a cash-wrap buy shortly before it's a Bargain Bin buy. Nothing rests on the success of this book. For one thing, it's cheap to make. For another, agents and publishers will keep acquiring Book Deal Books because people believe in the internet but aren't sure what they believe. Industry Hype: D+.
Movie Potential: God willing, none. Movie Potential Grade: F+, with a "+" because Hollywood will try to make anything. Seriously.
Status Symbol: It's floppy and orange and blue. It's a nice conversation starter if you know people whose Tweets are in it, but if your Tweet is in it and you pull it out at a party, you're a dick. But this isn't the new Chabon, you know? Also, it comes out really soon probably because it needs to compete with a book just like it. Status Symbol Grade: D-.
First Sentence: In the foreword from Biz Stone: "It's easy to assign less weight to a pun than a poem - after all, laughter lightens the load." Oprah-ready shit, you know? B, because, dentists everywhere will buy the book for their office on this alone, much like those "Hang In There" kitten posters.
Scandal: Well, the ridiculous shit about the other Twitter book aside, there's another player involved in all of this: Microfame expert, blogger, and New Media consultant Rex Sorgatz. The way Rex told it in an email, Nick Douglas stole the book idea from him after he pitched it on Nick:
Yes, it was originally my idea. Yes, I pitched him on it, to see if he'd be interested in co-writing it with me. Yes, we worked lightly on a proposal together. Yes, six months later he was scoping his own book deal behind my back. And yes, this pissed me off at first. I eventually forgave him for what seems like an obvious indiscretion though. Because to be honest, I was probably never going to pursue it hard enough myself. I mean, it's a fucking book about Twitter.
Needless to say, this is the best part of the book.
Scandal grade: A, especially since Douglas repaid Rex with not one, but two Tweets! One of which was about having lunch (page 134).
The S.U.C.K.R. (Sorta Unqualified Consciously Knifing-worthy Review): Only sorta unqualified (as opposed to "fully") because I'm by no means a book critic, but come on: it's a book of Tweets. Douglas' introduction and Biz Stone's foreword are interesting enough, but only seven out of 158 pages. The book's content and structure are both problematic: there's no organizational scheme, as Tweets aren't grouped into categories, or even indexed. And a significant portion of the book's Tweets feel culled from a very specific list of people, many of whom are New York Media/Tech Types or celebrities (or, Twitter Celebrities, I guess). Take a look at this list:
Michael Ian Black (Stella)
David Wain (Stella)
Michael Showalter (Stella)
ScottAukerman (Mr. Show Writer)
Rainn Wilson (The Office)
Aziz Ansari (Human Giant)
Paul Scheer (Human Giant)
Jake and Amir (College Humor)
Bill Corbett (Mystery Sciene Theater guy)
Joel McHale (E!'s The Soup)
Judah Friedlander (30 Rock)
Felicia Day (Joss Whedon go-to actress)
Andy Borowitz (Creator of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
Penn Jilette (Penn and Teller)
Three things about that list: (1) the first half are the same repetitive voices heard throughout the New York Media and Tech scene's inane echo chamber, (2) the second half are your average Celebrity-Follow list, and (3) you can get all of these Tweets for free, right there, right above this paragraph. Click! Try it! Now, it'd be unfair to say that this is the majority of the book, or an in-depth analysis, but don't you think Douglas dipped into an otherwise pedestrian list? Finally, the omission of post-modern philosopher, Shaquille YEAH HOW MY ASS TASTE O'Neal is unforgivable. S.U.C.K.R. Grade: D+.
Final Status Galley Grade: One one hand, this was a seriously labor-intensive undertaking. If I had to read this many Tweets, I'd give in to trepanation. On the other, you can get the material in the book for free, they're 140-character insights, many of which people would pay not to exist, it doesn't have an index, it was maybe someone else's idea, there's no Shaq, there's another book just like it, and, uh, it's a book of Tweets.