105 Ways to Give a Book

Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors (BACA)

The Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors (BACA) really struck a chord out there. I’m being asked for a logo, guidelines, and a bumper sticker. Who knew?

The logo is in the works. I hope. I’ll say no more at this juncture.

Guidelines for celebrity author exceptions is tricky. I mean, first you’re letting in Lithgow, then Julie Andrews, and next thing you know Pamela Anderson’s got a book deal (title: Who’s Your Daddy?). It’s a slippery slope. The librarian host of The Magic of Books suggested allowing no exceptions for trading on name recognition, but allowing celebrities to write a book under another name. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. But I’m signing off on that rule, because it sounds good in theory.

However, I know we probably all have our personal exception, and that will be worked into the secret handshake. So, at the June membership meeting, I’ll shake your hand, wink, and say “Lithgow.” You’ll wink, and say “Julie Andrews,” or your preferred exception. Then we’ll both smile and nod knowingly. If you don’t have a preferred exception, then you can say “Carrot Top,” because that would be the funniest exception ever. (“I don’t like the work of Jamie Lee Curtis, but that Carrot Top is going places in children’s literature.”)

Fuse#8 wondered about the benefits of membership, considering the possibility that members would have free rein to whack an offending author on the head with his or her own work. While that would be lovely, it might lead to unfortunate arrests and unnecessary back strain from having to carry around all the relevant books on the off chance that one might run into Billy Joel at the corner Starbucks. So, I’m afraid I cannot endorse such actions, even though I might enjoy them.

Benefits of membership will include opportunities to display the logo on your page, to be particularly smug about celebrity authors, and to receive free soda refills at participating Wendy’s.

As BACA members, we will strive to shun celebrity authors in the blogging world. When a non-celebrity illustrator deserves to be recognized, the BACA member may wish to consider the “Spike Lee Who?” option. For instance, a blogger might note the exceptional work of Kadir Nelson by pointing out the availability of the book Please, Puppy, Please “as illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by some guy.” We will, as members, avoid giving undue publicity to celebrity authors, with the possible allowance of subjecting said celebrity authors to scorn and ridicule.

Our slogan: BACA off kids’ lit! It will look great on a bumper sticker.

13 comments:

fusenumber8 said...

What if you could whack them over the head with a paperback version of their book? That way they'd not be seriously injured but you could feel better about the state of the world.

Basically I'm asking for free reign to whack.

Anonymous said...

I do have to point out that Julie Andrews has been writing for a long time. Her book, Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles came out in 1974.

I'm with you on pretty much everyone else (Lithgow, Seinfeld, Madonna.....) but Julie Andrews is pretty cool and I think she's proven she can write.

Colleen aka Chasing Ray

gail said...

Damn. I'm a contrarian. Now I have to go out and read and blog about books by celebrity authors.

I won't forget this.

Franki said...

Okay, so there are a few celebritites whose books I like. But, the thing that bothers me almost more is that there are HUGE stores like Limited Too, that carry these celebrity books. I would think a store like that could really do good things for the world by carrying good books instead of junk. I am a little bit impressed with Pottery Barn lately because they have real books by real authors--pretty good ones, actually. Maybe we can add this as a subcommittee--supporting big chains that sell books by authors instead of celebrities...We may need a Blogger Seal of Approval or something:-)

eisha said...

I am deeply in love with this BACA idea, and I'm happy to do whatever I can for the cause. Like, maybe we could come up with a special award for any member of Michael Jordan's family that hasn't written a book about his childhood yet?

Liz B said...

I've gotten into a mini Julie Andrews discussion over at my site and am raising the question here. When did it become generally known that Julie Edwards is Julie Andrews? The original books were JE, not JAE as is now. (And I'm of the record that Julie Andrews is a writer who happens to be a celebrity, rather than a celebrity who believes they can be an author.)

Gregory K. said...

I guess I'm a curmudgeon here, cuz I just don't see the point. Celebs often make money for publishers, and that's the bottom line (literally). Celebs could say no when approached, I guess, but I don't think any of them set out thinking "hey, I'm gonna write a lousy book and be done with it!" Do YOU want to be typecast as someone with only one talent? If someone asked YOU to star in a movie, would you?

Also, celebrity books are hardly new. I know Fuse has a mention of Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster!) on her blog. Excellent stuff he did. The prolific Bill Peet was well known as Disney's favorite animator/storyboarder. Does that make him a celeb author? What about Pete Seeger? He's not a writer, correct? John Lithgow? He's just an actor (who happened to play banjo and sing kids songs (and I suspect wrote books) from long, long, long, long before most people knew him as an actor). Alan Arkin's a novelist. Cat Stevens did at least one picture book. And I guarantee you if John Lennon had done a "Give Peace a Chance" book for kids, and it was wonderful, we'd all find an excuse to let it in. But that'd be cheating.

Don't get me wrong -- there's a lot of awful stuff published cuz a celeb wrote it. Then again, if you think those books NOT existing would guarantee extra sales for good books that DO exist, well, that'd be pretty much incorrect. I doubt anyone sits in B+N and says "Hmmm, the Ray Romano or Where the Wild Things Are? Hmmm."

If someone's got proof that reading bad celeb books turns kids OFF reading, I'm all for seeing it. Otherwise... I just don't get it.

Sheila said...

I think the problem with celebrity authors is not whether or not they are bad writers, although certainly some of them are. I think the problem is more that many celebrity books tend to be heavy-handed "message books." It's not that the celebrity wants to write a book; it's more that they reach a certain level of success and then feel like they have to give back to the community. While that's an admirable impulse, there must be a better way to "give back" then to write a book to teach kids some lesson or inspire them in some way.

Elaine Magliaro said...

I attended a Foundation for Children's Books event that was held last week at Boston College. Roger Sutton served as moderator of a panel of speakers who were editors at Candlewick, Charlesbridge, and Houghton Mifflin--publishers in the Boston area that publish children's books. There was talk that many of the celebrity-written books don't really make much money when one takes into consideration the amount the publishers spend to promote these books.

danielle said...

I'm sure you've just heard about the newest member of the celebrity author posse....Jenna Bush.

http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2007-03-05-jenna-bush_N.htm

:: Suzanne :: said...

I would love to be a member and display a button in my sidebar. I guess sidebar buttons are the new bumper stickers.

Anonymous said...

How dare you use the title "BACA"! BACA does NOT stand for your ridiculous mundane celebrity crap. it stands for something unbelievably more important, Bikers Against Child Abuse! An organization who's intent is to protect children from any type of abuse. Physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse. For you to use the same name is flat out disgusting! You should be ashamed of marring their good cause. You should seriously consider changing your name. You make me sick!

MotherReader said...

Anonymous - Couple of things. First of all, um it's a two year old post. Second, I agree that BACA stands for Bikers Against Child Abuse. It also stands for Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas, Bay Area Cricket Alliance, and Boston Association of Caberet Artists - all of which come up in the first few pages of a Google Search whereas my "organization" does not. Third, you lose a lot of credibility in your goal to protect children from all abuse - including verbal - when you then go on to verbally abuse someone you don't even know. I can certainly respect the goals of Bikers Against Child Abuse, but can't imagine that my use of the acronym will bring any harm to that organization. Now, that Cricket Alliance- they might be worth looking into...