Apparently, every (Anti)Book should have a DVD

Last night I went to the Sydney launch of (Formula One driver) Jackie Stewart’s autobiography. It was a weird night on a number of fronts and a bit of a throwback to my early childhood when he was *the* motor racing hero of an impressionable seven year old. The night consisted of an hour long DVD, a half hour chat from the wee scot himself and some Q&A from an adoring (and largely old, over 50) audience of over 700 people. What Sir Jackie had to say about the book itself was kind of interesting though. Apparently, it comes bundled with a DVD (the one  we watched) and he reckoned that “every book should come with a DVD”. He went on to recount a conversation with Frederick Forsyth and his suggestion that Forsyth’s new novel (The Afghan) would be improved if footage of the scenery and backdrops he described were included on a disk.Personally, I don’t think that’s not what books are about. For me the whole idea of books is so that readers can engage with the text and ideas in ways that overt imagery do not allow. Maybe it works for celebrity autobigraphies (although Sir Jackie’s DVD was mind-numbingly banal) and other forms of antibooks, but not for the real mccoy.The other interesting discussion revolved around how Sir Jackie had promoted his book; essentially doing a huge number of events (on a rock-star like tour bus) and piling journalists with free goodies. He recounted how his publisher initially baulked, but then releneted when he pointed out that the entire promotion would be *sponsored* by the likes of Rolex and Moet et Chandon, his long time associates. The suggestion seemed to be that *this* was the direction that publishing ought to take; that it was mired in old-fashioned thinking and ideas like DVDs and corporate sponsorship were a natural fit with books. To prove the point, he pointed out that he had sold over 200,000 copies.I have no problem with any of those ideas and approached. Unless it’s done at the expense of all those other things that books are about. So go ahead and produce DVDs and introduce corporate sponsorship. But don’t do all those antibook things at the expense of real books things.And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’d better read my book 🙂 


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