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The Daily Show Sells Books – Who’d Have Thunk?

The New York Times’ Julie Bosman adopts a sense of gee-whizness in this piece about how Comedy Central‘s flagship satirical show brings on serious authors – and how their books sell in massive quantities thereafter. Of course, let’s remember that if 1.5 million people watch the show, and if 1/10th of the audience (or less) buys books, voila! Instant bestseller (see, BOOK, AMERICA THE.) So the numbers for stardom don’t have to be all that high. Still, the number of serious authors talking to Jon Stewart (and Stephen Colbert on THE COLBERT REPORT) has gone up in the last few years as the number of venues for them dry up elsewhere. Publishers say that particularly for the last six months, both shows have become the most reliable venues for promoting weighty books whose authors would otherwise end up on THE EARLY SHOW on CBS looking like they showed up at the wrong party.

“It was almost an ‘oh my God’ moment,” said Lissa Warren, publicity director for Da Capo Press. “There aren’t that many television shows that will have on serious authors. And when they do have one, it’s almost startling.” Part of the surprise, publishers said, is that the Comedy Central audience is more serious than its reputation allows. They aren’t just YouTube obsessives but a much more diverse – and book-buying – audience. “It’s the television equivalent of NPR,” Martha Levin, publisher of Free Press, said. “You have a very savvy, interested audience who are book buyers, people who do go into bookstores, people who are actually interested in books.”

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