Jill Abramson, who was unceremoniously ousted last year as editor of the New York Times, has signed a $1 million book deal. Her book's topic will be "the future of media in a rapidly changing world." This development can be interpreted as folly, or farce.
"I've been a front-line combatant in the news media's battles to remain the bedrock of an informed society," Abramson told the New York Post. "Now, I'm going to wear my reporter's hat again to tell the full drama of that story in a book, focusing on both traditional and new media players in the digital age."
As a participant in the news media's battles to remain the bedrock of an informed society, allow me to point out: most people don't care about this. News about the media is hands-down the single category of news whose importance and public appeal is most overestimated by people who are employed in all aspects of the media. Including book publishing. As someone with a personal familiarity with both traditional and new media players in the digital age, allow me to also point out: those people are not all that interesting. The most interesting thing about both traditional and new media players in the digital age tends to be the media content they produce, which is available outside of book form.
Even if a publisher did believe that a book about "the future of media" is worth a million-dollar book deal, why would they believe that Jill Abramson is the one to write it? This is not a dig against Jill Abramson, who is a talented journalist with an illustrious resume and who is undoubtedly capable of writing an insightful book on any number of topics. Jill Abramson is also a 60 year-old former newspaper editor and career employee of the oldest of America's old media institutions. The only demographic less well positioned to have good insight into the future of media would be illiterate octogenarians.
Abramson's publisher, Simon and Schuster, told The Guardian that this will not be a "a score-settling book" about Abramson's ouster from the Times, removing even the possibility of it containing some level of prurient gossip appeal. For hot content like that you will have to read Jill Abramson's last book, which was about her dog.
David Carr, the actual media columnist at Jill Abramson's paper, wrote an autobiographical book called Night of the Gun (which became a best-seller.) I once attended a promo event for that book, held on the very top floor of the multilevel Barnes & Noble near Union Square. During the Q&A, someone asked Carr, "Why didn't you write a book about the media?" He pointed to a shelf of books off to the side of the stage. "See that? That's where they keep the media books. That's about as far away from the front door as you can get."
Our admiration of Abramson's book agent knows no bounds.