Today's WSJ has a story that explains in painstaking detail how Eat, Pray, Love became the most popular book we ever hated ourselves for loving, despite so-so hardcover sales. In the event you haven't read it, it's a memoir of a person who gets very rich when Disney buys her personal essay as the basis for the movie Coyote Ugly, only to have some weird existential crisis and leave town. "Although her plans were uncertain, she knew she wanted to learn Italian, meditate at her guru's temple in India and spend time with a healer in Bali." Anyway, this plan made her even richer because: the resultant book was chick lit, but it wasn't set in Manhattan, and chick lit not set in Manhattan is the sort of the new chick lit set in Manhattan. And, there were ads in places as unlikely as Yoga Journal, an O excerpt, the usual promotional clusterfuck. Also the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, is really pretty and nice and when she shows up at readings people swoon and want to buy a book just so she'll sign one. Which brings us to a major overlooked factor in the book's success.
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