When Michael Jackson died on June 25, publishers scrambled to get everything they had on the King of Pop into stores and online. The results have been varied, from new deals for out-of-print titles to foreign-rights sales for self-published authors. PW breaks down some of the current and forthcoming MJ books.
Title: Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story, 1958—2009
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Pub date: August 5, 2009
Title Z* rank: 43
Story: Jamie Raab at Hachette snatched up journalist J. Randy Taraborrelli's then out-of-print bio on Jackson less than a week after the singer died. GC announced a first printing of 125,000 and had the author update the original text. (Taraborrelli's original title, from Pan Books, is still selling on Amazon; Title Z has that book at 19,297.)
Title: Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson
Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment
Pub date: July 14, 2009
Title Z rank: 233
Story: A day after Hachette signed up its bio, S&S nabbed music journalist (and frequent celebrity biographer) Ian Halperin's already-in-the-works title about the star from Canadian house Transit. A rep at S&S said it now has 350,000 copies in print. (The house announced a first printing of 500,000.)
Title: Michael Jackson Conspiracy
Publisher: iUniverse/Aphrodite Jones Books
Pub date: June 1, 2007
Title Z rank: 372
Story: This self-published title by Aphrodite Jones (a journalist who's previously published with major houses) benefited from being in the fray early. Jones and iUniverse own the rights jointly and, after Jackson's death, a number of foreign-rights deals closed, with sales in late July to houses in China, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Title: In the Studio with Michael Jackson
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Pub date: July 27, 2009
Title Z rank: 5,299
Story: Hal Leonard rushed this book by Jackson's sound engineer and longtime collaborator, Bruce Swedien. Swedien worked on numerous Jackson albums, including Off the Wall and Thriller.
Title: On Michael Jackson
Pub date: July 10, 2006
Title Z rank: 20,631
Story: The Random House paperback imprint went back to press for 20,000 copies of Pulitzer-winner Margo Jefferson's deconstructive look at Jackson as a cultural icon.
Title: Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask
Publisher: Select Books
Pub date: June 15, 2005
Title Z rank: 10,927
Story: Midpoint, Select's distributor, helped the house get 15,000 copies of the backlist title out after Jackson died.
Title: Michael Jackson: Visual Documentary, the Official Tribute Edition
Publisher: Omnibus Press
Pub date: August 1, 2009
Title Z rank: 5,266
Story: Omnibus, which specializes in music publishing, brought out this title and two others: HIStory and Michael Jackson: A Life in Music.
Title: Michael Jackson Treasures
Pub date: September 2009
Story: Packager becker&mayer! claims to have sold this title to Fall River Press (now folded into Sterling Publishing) within 24 hours of Jackson's death. The book is scrapbook-like, with reproductions of documents and ticket stubs—the packager is calling it a “museum-in-a-book.”
Pub date: October 13, 2009
Story: Jackson's 1988 autobiography was originally published by Doubleday. The rights to the title had reverted to the singer and Harmony struck a new deal late last month. (The title was originally edited by then Doubleday editor Jackie Kennedy Onassis.) The Random House imprint has announced a first printing of 100,000. The new edition will have an introduction by an as-yet-unnamed “well-known figure in the entertainment industry.”
Title: Untitled work by Sasha Frere-Jones
Pub date: 2010
Story: Ecco acquired this essay by the music critic at the New Yorker at the end of July. The book, Frere-Jones's first, will examine Jackson's impact on music and the culture at large.
Title: Michael Jackson: Before He Was King
Pub date: fall 2009
Story: Chronicle acquired this photography book by Todd Gray—the pictures span a 10-year period, from Jackson's group work with his family to various solo efforts—in early July.
Pub date: spring 2010
Publisher: Da Capo
Story: Da Capo had this book by Nelson George, about Jackson's career-altering album, in the works when the singer died.
*Title Z is a service that tracks the sales history of books sold on Amazon.com. Title Z data here reflects sales through August 6.