For a real-life, Shakespearean-esque saga with all the right ingredients – a global media empire, a salacious tabloid, a staggering phone hacking scandal, a king-of-the-world media mogul disgraced – the books have been surprisingly few and far between on the undoing of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World.
Until now. Vanity Fair released the first book, an e-book, on the affair, and it just might open the floodgates.
“Rupert Murdoch, The Master Mogul of Fleet Street” hit Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook stores Friday for $3.99.
The quick-turnaround e-book is a collection of 20 stories from Vanity Fair, compiled and organized by editor Graydon Carter. It includes current coverage of the Murdoch saga as well as long-form magazine articles on the media mogul dating to 1984, by Vanity Fair contributing editors including Bryan Burrough, Sarah Ellison, Edward Klein, James Wolcott and Michael Wolff.
In a press release, Vanity Fair described “Rupert Murdoch: The Master Mogul of Fleet Street,” as “a probing, behind-the-scenes, no-holds-barred look at the embattled News Corp. chairman whose media empire is straining under the pressure of a growing phone-hacking scandal.”
“Tracing the rise of the ultimate media baron and illuminating the roots of his current predicament, "Rupert Murdoch: The Master Mogul of Fleet Street," "paints a truly intimate portrait of Murdoch from his days commanding tabloids on London's Fleet Street to his cunning maneuvers on Wall Street, from his acquisition of 20th Century Fox to his launch of Fox News,” the release says.
The 20 stories published in the book are organized into six chapters, including “All in the Family,” “The Newspaperman Part I,” “In the Realm of the Mogul,” “The New Frontiersman,” “The Newspaperman, The Final Act” and ”The Lion in Winter.”
“The e-books trade has yet to bulk into a significant threat to the traditional book industry model,” writes Joe Pompeo, in Yahoo’s The Cutline blog. “But it has proved an accommodating format for news outlets seeking to somehow squeeze revenue from readers for quality long-form journalism in digital form. E-books are cheap and easy to produce; they don't require extensive design work and can be culled from a newspaper or magazine's existing cache of reporting on a topic. As a result, media companies are starting to embrace the format as "a welcome addition to the bottom line," as Nieman Journalism Lab's Joshua Benton put it.”
Already, publishers have tried the format with instant e-books on the 2012 presidential campaign, Osama bin Laden’s capture, and Will and Kate’s royal wedding.
E-books are also the surest way to get a book to the (digital) shelves before competitors do. Although others have signed book deals (including reporter Nick Davies, who broke the story for the Guardian), Vanity Fair seems to be the first with a book actually out.
“Rupert Murdoch: Master Mogul of Fleet Street,” is currently available for $3.99 in the Kindle and Nook stores.
Husna Haq is a Monitor contributor.