Drew Curtis used to have a Web site featuring nothing more than, according to Gotham Books publicity manager Andy Heidel, "a squirrel with a certain oversized anatomy part." Now Curtis has a book due out from the Penguin imprint in May.
Curtis, the founder and Web guru behind Fark.com, is more than a guy who stumbled onto a new career by tinkering online. He's a news aggregator who's won the following of some very influential commentators, or at least some very funny ones. His site, which collects, tags and comments on news of the weird from around the world—Heidel described the site as what you'd have "if The Daily Show ran The Drudge Report"—is regularly perused by Jon Stewart's writing staff as well as scribes at Letterman and Leno.
Proving how dedicated his fans are, Curtis managed to get his book to significantly climb Amazon.com's preorder list on January 9—#22 on the overall one and #12 on the nonfiction one—simply by mentioning its early availability on Fark.
The book, It's Not News, It's Fark: How Mass Media Tries to Pass off Crap as News, is, Heidel said, a "sober yet funny" take on the myriad ways news organizations consistently make non-news into headlines. Heidel said Curtis has been reading some 2,000 articles a day for the past decade and that the book offers his perspective on everything from newspapers running straight press releases to annual stories about things that never change, like Fourth of July traffic.
The site—dubbed one of the "third largest time wasters" online, after MySpace and YouTube by PC World magazine—seems to have enough cachet to inspire Curtis's fans to buy his book. That's certainly what Gotham is counting on. The imprint has gone to press for 75,000 copies, and Heidel said he's "already batting off radio requests with a stick."