It’s the year of celebrity memoirs

Celebrity memoirs aren’t just a source of gossip-worthy headlines… they’ve also been giving the publishing industry a needed shot in the arm.

Driving the news: The Woman in Me by pop legend Britney Spears debuted at the top of The New York Times best seller list for non-fiction this past week, the latest in a steady stream of celebrity memoirs that have been hitting (and flying off of) shelves this year.

  • Jada Pinkett Smith’s Worthy debuted at number four in both Canada and the U.S., while Be Useful by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Making It So by Patrick Stewart have both been at the top of The Globe and Mail non-fiction best seller list for two weeks.

  • Back in January, Prince Harry’s Spare sold 3.2 million copies globally in its first week, making it Penguin Random House’s fastest-selling book ever.

Big picture: This year has also seen best-selling memoirs from Paris Hilton, Elliot Page, Pamela Anderson, and John Stamos. And the year’s not over yet…  books from Barbra Streisand, Henry Winkler, Donovan Bailey, and Willie Nelson are still to come.

Why it’s happening: Amid economic uncertainty and executive turmoil at the world’s biggest book houses, publishers are taking fewer risks, which means they’ll be leaning more into things they see as sure-fire hits.

Why it matters: Book sales in Canada are down 12% through the first half of the year, so publishers are hoping the buzz and appeal of celebrity memoirs can buoy the industry. —JK