The Pig's Lipstick: Why do trashy books sell?








Enter Rielle Hunter.  You remember her, right?  John Edwards’ mistress. Hunter’s book, What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me is set to be released on June 26. In its “prelaunch” stage, it is now ranked number one in two bestseller categories on the Kindle Store and number three in a third category (as of June 21,2012).

According to the stories and interviews already published about Hunter’s book, it is a salacious, kiss-and-tell account of Hunter’s affair with Edwards which produced a love-child.

Call me old-fashioned or out of touch or self-righteous, I don’t care. A book like that really hacks me off.

The whole sordid mess about Edwards and Hunter is morally repulsive to people who embrace values such as decency, faithfulness and loyalty.

Hunter’s book is nothing but the latest chapter in the longstanding popularity of books that are pure trash, books that showcase moral bankruptcy.

It is selling like hotcakes.

That is the conundrum.

Why do trashy books jump off the shelves, while thoughtful, well-written ones languish in obscurity?

Why don’t people scramble to buy a work of calm, deep reflection like Christina Carson’s DYING TO KNOW, or a book about a father’s love for his son such as FOURTH AND FOREVER, by Bert Carson? Why don’t readers yearn to delve into a classic work of historical fiction like Jack Durish’s REBELS ON THE  MOUNTAIN, or lose themselves in a breathless spy novel like Andre Le Gallo’s SATAN’S SPY?

Is there no place on their Kindles for the poetic vision of Jo Vonbargen’s FROM THIS FAR TIME? No time for quiet introspection while they marvel at the word pictures of Ozark landscapes in Jory Sherman’s HILLS OF EDEN?

If readers want political intrigue, can’t they find it in spades in a thriller like Caleb Pirtle’s PLACE OF SKULLS? If they like to read about crime and punishment, do they need to look any further than John Crawley’s BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT?

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

At this moment, we find ourselves in an evolutionary shift in publishing.  For the first time in human history, through the power of the Internet, people are able to express themselves to a worldwide audience, to share their fine literary work with the mere touch of a computer keyboard.  Many have done so, enriching the world with their gifts.

And still what sells is the pig’s lipstick.

Well, I, for one, am not going to let the Rielle Hunter’s of the world dictate what I read, or more importantly, influence what I write.  She won’t see a sale on the Kindle store from me.  But the other writers listed above will.

And so will a lot of other authors, so long as they put their hands to writing books worth reading and leave the lipstick to Rielle’s keepers.



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