Monday, November 20, 2006

If I Did It

For anyone who has been living under a rock, I might have to point out that O. J. Simpson has written a book entitled If I Did It, Here’s How it Happened. Published by Judith Regan of Regan Books, the book and the publisher have come under a firestorm of controversy from the media, consumers, and industry professionals alike, and the more Judith Regan tries to defend herself the murkier the situation seems to get.

Rather than rehash the entire story (you can read more on almost any publishing or news-related Web site), I want to give my own murky opinion of the situation. The truth is, I really don’t know what to think.

As an editor, a great number of the decisions I made about what to buy, as well as the decisions I now make as an agent about what to represent, are personal. The first question always was and still is whether or not I like something. The second is whether it will make me money. The question then becomes: If I don’t like something, or don’t agree with it, but know it will still make me money, would I consider it? The answer is, I’m not sure.

On the one hand, I’m disgusted and stunned by the arrogance and greed it must take to come out and do something like this. While O. J. is obviously denying it’s a confession, I have to wonder whether or not an innocent person, convicted of a crime, would truly come out publicly with what would have been a better plan for murder. I’m also wondering why you wouldn’t just lay it to rest. I have to think that if my husband were brutally murdered and I had to stand trial for the crime, I would just want it all to go away.

On the other hand, publishing is a business, and in any business the goal is to make money. So where does a business draw the line between personal feelings and the needs and desires of the shareholders? If Regan Books chose not to buy the project, would it have been a poor business decision since another publisher would have grabbed it? The truth is that these books are selling. It isn’t even officially out yet and has already reached #24 on the Amazon list. So who’s at fault? Judith Regan for publishing the book or the public for so obviously wanting to read it?

My personal feelings and my business sense are torn on this topic, and more important, I’m just baffled by the entire thing. Can anyone else make any more sense out of it than I’ve done?

—Jessica

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