Will celebrity books lose some glitter?

In the UK, there's a notable omission on some publishers' 2009 book lists: the celebrity memoir. Are books by celebrities losing some market appeal? "Celebrity memoirs are being left on the shelf because of falling sales caused by the credit crunch," says a piece in yesterday's Scotsman.

The piece notes that while 2008 publishers lists were full of books by celebrities, they are making only scant appearances on lists for the first six months of 2009.

"Celebrity memoirs," the story predicts, "are set to be overtaken in popularity by self-help manuals and books on how to survive global economic meltdown."

"Celebrities are becoming a devalued currency now," says Danuta Kean, a lecturer on the publishing industry at Brunel University. "Many of them have simply not delivered on sales despite big advances. Publishers are now only likely to go ahead if the writer has a real story to tell."

Of course, things might look different in the US where Tina Fey recently signed a $5-million book deal. Laura Bush and Sarah Palin are also expected to draw up highly lucrative contracts for their stories in the near future.

Nick Davies, of Scottish publishing house Canongate, notes that there's been talk of the death of the celebrity memoir before. "Every time someone predicts the end of this type of book it surprises us," he says. "I would be reluctant to say it is over."

However, he says, adding a comment that rings true of both sides of the Atlantic: "The only difference now is that, in this economic climate, publishers will be a bit more cautious about whom they back."

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