“My Beautiful Mummy” book: Newsweek beat-up sucks most in

A dementedly objectifying book, aimed at kids, about why “Mummy” might want to have plastic surgery was profiled in Newsweek recently, and got a lot of people hot under the collar: WhatAreWeTeachingOurChildren, ThisWillCorruptTheValuesOfOurYouth, etc etc etc.

Now, the author of this tripe is pretty indefensible: Michael Salzhauer is a plastic surgeon himself, with a lucrative cosmetic surgery business which this book is clearly designed to bolster. But we can at least defend the publishing industry against charges of cynically pandering to such distorted values: you won’t be able to buy this book in bookstores, because it is only being published by a vanity press, one of those places which promises the moon to hopeful authors and makes them pay through the nose to see their book in print.

You can’t find Salzhauer’s book on Amazon or any other online bookseller. The vanity press involved hasn’t even organised getting it assigned an ISBN managed to make its ISBN easily findable by people in the trade (it took a phone call to the author to discover it). Teresa Nielsen Hayden explains in more detail how the Newsweek piece essentially generated a moral panic out of whole cloth, presenting the book (complete with quotes from concerned pontificating professionals) as if it was going to have a normal marketing run in bookstores.

Teresa pointedly notes that the journalist has produced a better piece of marketing than many trade publishing houses do, and also notes that without the Newsweek journalist writing the article, no-one would ever have heard of this book or this surgeon. So how did the journo miss the teensy-weensy detail that this book was just a bunch of expensive copies paid for by the author (real publishing houses pay authors to publish their books, they don’t ask authors to pay them to publish their books)?

Teresa closes:

It’s one more thing to think about when the conventional media make snotty remarks about the journalistic standards of weblogs.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, health, skepticism

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