No doubt the New York Times will soon start a best-sellers list for books under 10,000 words and available only electronically. Perhaps it already has and I don't know about it, which is the point. Not only aren't there any gatekeepers anymore, the ruins are in danger of being covered in virtual sand.
I will relentlessly promote my own eBook when it arrives, so don’t worry about missing that one. But do worry about missing the Allen/Thomas offering. Here is what it reveals: Everything has changed, again. And it will change again before the spring, and again before the conventions, and of course again before November’s ballots are cast.
I talked about this with Tagg Romney on Wednesday’s radio show. I first interviewed Tagg in 2006, just as I began work on my book about his father, and so he is one of the few to have been on both Romney campaigns and at the center of the planning and execution (or lack of it in 2008) of the strategy. There are many changes between then and now, of course, but the one he identifies is the sheer speed at which events move now.
“[H]ow is the media different this time around?” I asked him.
“Well, you know, the media, well, it’s a very different world to begin with,” he began. “You know, it’s funny. I remember going to, after each debate four years ago, you go to the spin room, and then you talk to all the different reporters that were there from Politico and ABC, and the New York Times, and then they’d run off and write their stories after you finished talking to them.”
“Well what’s interesting now, you show up, and they’ve already written, they’ve already Tweeted exactly what they’re going to say, and the spin room is almost irrelevant, because they’ve already spun, and you’ve been spinning during the debate, you’ve been Tweeting during the debate, and they’ve been taking notice of those things,” he continued.
“And so it’s a whole different world,” he concluded. “I mean, it’s just so much faster, the speed with which everything travels.”
As it is with the campaign, so it is with the reporting of the campaign, and so too with the market for books about the campaign.
Mark Halperin’s and John Heilemann’s Game Change was a news event when it published in early January, 2010, a full two years after President Obama’s election. It gave readers the inside look, exposed the hidden hands, laid bare the secrets (which some may think journalists owe in real time, but that’s another story.)
No more big advances, I think, for those authors coming to the party 24 months after the dancing is done. Allen and Thomas have set a new standard for political reporting. The game has changed again.