Starbucks Skips the Saccharine

January 11, 2007 | 4 books mentioned 4

coverFresh off of shilling the latest feel good tome from Mitch Albom in its thousands of locations, Starbucks has taken a more serious turn with its follow up selection. Soon to appear at the many Starbucks undoubtedly near you is a memoir by a former child soldier from Sierra Leone, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. According to the AP’s Hillel Italie, Starbucks sold nearly 100,000 copies of Albom’s book, meaning that this selection represents a huge windfall for both Beah and his publisher FSG.

Interestingly, the book’s selection continues a mini-trend in the popularity of books about or based on the tragic lives of child soldiers in Africa, including Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala and What is the What by Dave Eggers (reviewed recently by Garth). Starbucks is also, of course, part of the larger trend, several years old now, whereby entities outside of the book industry bestow bestseller status upon a book, and publishers and authors all wrangle to, in effect, win the lottery. At least in this case the lottery is being won by an unknown rather than an overexposed bestselling author like Albom. Meanwhile, the ultimate king-maker, Oprah, will later this month be making her first new book club selection in more than a year.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.

4 comments:

  1. I'm a huge supporter of Star'books'. It nurtures readers or aspirant readers in a cafe forum they're comfortable within. What surprises me, is there choice of book. As a conglomerate frequently accused of exploiting African nations on a coffee level, it's almost a passive aggressive move. Mel.

  2. I was happy to hear Starbucks was going to start promoting books like they do music and "The Bee" movie. However, I was taken back when I saw that Mitch Albom was the first author they picked. I'm happy again to see they are moving away from the Mic Jagger's of the writing world and heading into the unknown.

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