Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Great. More inspiration for the rest of us.

I am far from an expert on anything but there is such a thing as the law of diminishing return in many, many aspects of life. According to an interactive tutorial from the University of South Carolina, “The Law of Diminishing Returns is an economics classic. It says: As you repeat doing something, each repetition becomes harder and/or less rewarding. The "returns" to your extra efforts 'diminish…'"

This concept occurred to me when I read the news about Sarah Palin’s next foray into publishing. Apparently, she’s writing another book, this one as yet untitled, in which she will gather a “celebration of American virtues and strengths.” She’ll select “readings that have inspired her and portraits of she admires.” Mixed in between her favorites will be her own musings on her personal experiences to “amplify” the themes she’ll cover in the book.

Let me see if I understand this. It took Sarah Palin about forty-six years of living before she burst onto the literary scene with her multi-million copy bestseller, Going Rogue. Full disclosure: I haven’t read her book but understand it to be her own irreverent, unapologetic autobiography. Granted, crammed into her years were a governorship and a national campaign for the Vice-Presidency of this country but those things happened only over the last few years. For the first forty-one years or so of her life, she was very far from a familiar name, living for all practical purposes the exact same life millions of Americans lead on a daily basis.

But there is no denying she has her fans and Harper Collins has the book sales to prove it. And like any publisher on the planet, it simply has to be true that one bestseller deserves another. There is no other reason to believe that the Sarah Palin has any more enlightened ideas about the “readings that have inspired her,” (which by the way would be “writings,” wouldn’t they?) or can choose from among portraits of people she admires better than you, or me, or the guy down the street who walks his two standard poodles every morning, or the man who pumps my gas, or the guy who hands me coffee through the window at Dunkin Donuts or the CPA who does our taxes every year.

I have no doubt that Sarah’s collection of inspiration, mixed with her own personal reflections on said inspiration, will sell like mad. But getting back to our law of diminishing return rules, it won’t sell as well as Going Rogue. There is simply no way it can. It’s not a personal, “let me tell you how it is” story. It’s not an inside look into the life of a woman who emerged from all but obscurity outside of Alaska onto the national stage in exactly one day in 2008.

What is it again? “A celebration of American virtues and strengths.” “Readings that have inspired her.” People she loves plus her own personal connection that will “amplify” the essays. That's super.

These kinds of books emerge from celebrities with some regularity. They must do well enough, although I don’t think I ever bought one. Maybe they’re supposed to inspire the rest of us to get inspired, or inspire others, or recognize inspiration when it smacks us in the face. All I know is that I don’t really care who inspires David Archuleta (“Chords of Strength”), Maria Shriver (“We Inspire”), Marlo Thomas (“The Right Words at the Right Time”), Marlo Thomas (“The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2”), Charles Grodin (“If I Only Knew Then…learning from our mistakes”), or Jane Seymour (“Open Hearts”).

Question: is the book-buying public clamoring for another one? Are we all just dying to read Sarah Palin’s hand-picked collection of inspiration? Let me rephrase: are enough of us dying to read it make it worth publishing?

I guess we’ll find out.

No comments: