By Nicole Martineau, Publicist
As I watched the final episode of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, I couldn’t help but think of an eye-opening piece I read in the Washington Post just months earlier. Published in February right after Stewart announced his departure, “Who will miss Jon Stewart the most? Book publicists” is Ron Charles’ wonderful piece on how The Daily Show with Jon Stewart served as a popular platform for authors to promote their books.
Quoted in the article was Paul Bogaards, executive vice president of Knopf Doubleday, who notes that Stewart’s positive impact on the publishing industry isn’t limited to book sales:
“’Publishers don’t have a lot of substantive broadcast booking options for authors,’ he says. ‘The value of Jon Stewart welcoming writers on his show, giving them a platform and making them a part of the conversational mix was quantifiable in this sense: He elevated the work of authors, made books relevant to a younger demographic. And that demographic remains challenging for publishers to reach, at least en masse.’”
According to an informal report released by Fusion, although the majority of Stewart’s guests were celebrities plugging their latest Hollywood hit, 22.9% of all guests were authors.
Last week, Entertainment Weekly took a closer look at some of the titles that catapulted to success all thanks to an interview segment on The Daily Show, including Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen, The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by David Mitchell (translator for Naoki Higashida), and Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security by Sarah Chayes.
The industry was mourning the same loss just months earlier when Stephen Colbert signed off from The Colbert Report one last time, who according to some, may have had an even bigger influence on the publishing industry than Stewart. Vulture’s Boris Katchka discussed this variance in a piece back in December, detailing Colbert’s impact on the book industry:
“Not since Oprah’s Book Club has any one personality been able to sell copies in six-figure increments, and, well, Colbert didn’t come close, either. An especially good Report interview might have as strong a sales impact as an appearance on The Daily Show, but Colbert wasn’t a ‘tentpole asset’ Jon Stewart’s level, per one head of publicity. (Either could easily mean a 5,000-copy spike but not too much more.) Yet Colbert had more actual writers on than his mentor — not just politicians flogging books. ‘Stewart gets the head of state,’ says Little, Brown editor Reagan Arthur. ‘Colbert goes more for the person who’s writing about the head of state.’”
Now that Stewart has officially signed off, where will publicists turn to when we have a book that would have been the right fit for those programs?
According to Sophia Hollander of The Wall Street Journal, the next big late-night literary platform has been right under our noses this whole time. According to Hollander, Late Night with Seth Meyers has become a “haven for writers, particularly novelists, with the host welcoming more than a dozen authors in the past year.” Meyers opened up about his love of reading in his interview with WSJ:
“‘Writers are just naturally great storytellers,’ he said. Unlike a celebrity, ‘when an author comes out more often than not you’ve never seen them, you don’t know anything about their personality. The fun for me and the fun for the audience is just realizing how many different kinds of people write books.’”
According to Hollander, Meyers has impacted the fiction genre more than his late night colleagues, which “hasn’t had a TV champion since Oprah Winfrey started her book club and turned dozens of novels into blockbusters.”
Will Meyers branch into other genres to fill the void left by Colbert and Stewart? Only time will tell. But he might be our new go-to guy for late-night book publicity if The Daily Show with Trevor Noah fails to pick up where Stewart left off.