The Power of Positive Publishing | New York Magazine

The Power of Positive Publishing; Boris Kachka; In New York Magazine; 2013-01-06.
Teaser: How self-help ate America.

Mentioned

… roughly in order of appearance.

  • Dwight MacDonald; Howtoism; a book; 1954 (not listed in Amazon)
  • Best Sellers in Self-Help; a list; on Amazon
  • Charles Duhigg; The Power of Habit,
  • Paulo Coelho; The Alchemist, a novel
  • Susan Cain; Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, 
  • Will Schwalbe; The End of Your Life Book Club, a memoir
  • David Pelzer; A Child Called “It” ; a memoir
  • John Gray; Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex; original publisher: Harper?; reprint publisher: Harper; 2012-04-03; 368 pages; kindle: no, paper: $0.01+SHT.
  • William Shinker
    • publisher of Gotham Books
    • discovered (?) John Gray; Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
    • publishes books on “willpower” and “vulnerability”—“self-help masquerading as ‘big-idea’ books”
  • Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hanson; Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Ted Turner
  • Daniel Kahneman
  • Poor Richard’s Almanack
  • Dr. Spock.
  • Dale Carnegie
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Norman Vincent Peale
  • The New Age
  • New Thought
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Sigmund Freud
  • William James
  • Me Decade
  • Harper & Row relocates it’s religion division to San Francisco in 1977.
  • Esalen
  • Human Potential
  • Hazelden clinic
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • the recovery movement
  • Melody Beattie Codependent No More
  • Linda Loewenthal
    • editor, Harmony Books, a self-help publisher
    • references the recovery movement boom as “my awakening to the power of naming something.”
    • “An increasing segment of the market wants to read about the synthesis of different modalities.”
  • Esther Margolis, Newmarket Press, a self-help publisher
  • Suze Orman
    • Merrill Lynch
    • advice to the unemployed
    • middle class home economics advice via Newmarket Press
  • Deepak Chopra
    • Tufts
    • Boston University
    • meditation
    • Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old; Harmony Books; 1993.
  • Oprah Winfrey
    • attributed as “by 2000″
    • book promotions
    • Eckart Tolle, The Power of Now.
    • Rhonda Byrne; The Secret,.
    • The Corrections, a novel.
    • The Road, a novel.
  • Malcolm Gladwell; The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference; Abacus?; 2000; Black Bay Books; 2002-01-07; 301 pages; kindle: $10, paper: $1+SHT.
  • Eckhart Tolle; The Power of Now; 1997
    • 3000 copies
    • best seller after Oprah promo
  • Rhonda Byrne; The Secret,; Atria Books/Beyond Words; reprint; 2006; 198 pages; kindle: $12, paper: $2+SHT.
    tl;dr => a magical-thinking throwback to New Thought; an Oprah promotion
  • Greg Brandenburgh
    • ex-Harper San Francisco.
    • “What you’re looking for is to publish on conditions that are chronic and incurable,”
  • Heather Jackson
    • an editor, Harmony Books
    • demographic of interest: “the worried well looking to optimize, to make their lives that much better.”
    • Example: Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek.
  • Timothy Ferriss; The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich; Harmony; 2007-04-24; 320 pages; kindle: no, paper: $0.01+SHT.
  • life-hacking
  • inefficiency remediation
  • essayistic self-help
  • Caroline Sutton
    • on essayistic self-help “Somebody’s gonna kill me for saying this, but I think it was The Tipping Point,” Gladwell’s 2000 argument for the power of social connections, which made it safe for techies and business types—and, more generally, men—to read about bettering themselves. “The whole idea of showing that there is a counter­intuitive way of looking at information, to make you understand yourself in a completely different way—that’s been game-changing.”
    • Hudson Street Press of Penguin.
    • was at Random House.
    • “I think it’s important to offer out a promise to the reader, It’s a kind of quintessentially American thing.”
    • Concept: big idea science
    • “TED, is sort of like the new Oprah.”
  • Daniel Goleman
  • Toni Burbank
    • editor, Bantam Books.
    • <quote>a veteran self-help guru</quote>
    • Daniel Goleman; Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ; 1995.
  • Sharon Begley
  • Positive Psychology, a subgenre
  •  Like so many movements of the past, it began as the province of professionals pursuing greater knowledge or maybe better policy—until it was brought down to Earth by
  • Gretchen Rubin

Opinement

The snide commentary of Boris Kachka in the article.  Quoting…

  • …books on “willpower” and “vulnerability”—“self-help masquerading as ‘big-idea’ books.”
  • Today, every section of the store (or web page) overflows with instructions, anecdotes, and homilies. History books teach us how to lead, neuroscience how to use our amygdalas, and memoirs how to eat, pray, and love.
  • Instead of …
    • Instead of regulation, we have that new buzzword, self-regulation;
    • instead of an ambivalence over “selling out,” we have the millennial drive to “monetize”; and
    • instead of seeking to build better institutions, we mine them in order to build better selves.
  • Universities now devote faculty to fields (positive psychology, motivation science) that function as research arms of the self-help industry.
  • [J]ournalists schooled in a sense of public mission turn their skills to fulfilling our emotional needs.
  • But since self-help trails with it that old shameful stigma, the smartest writers and publishers shun the obvious terminology. And the savviest readers enjoy the masquerade, knowing full well what’s behind the costume: self-help with none of the baggage.
  • Linkbaits
  • The “recovery” system named everything, defining every problem as a personal illness to be conquered
    • toxic parents,
    • women who love too much,
    • obesity,
    • excessive shopping,
    • “codependency,” which could potentially encompass any human relationship.
  • The guru has given way to the data set—as explicated by journalists eager to break the constraints of a shrinking medium by pitching their discoveries directly to the masses. And where yesterday’s healers had their Esalen Institute and ­Hazelden, journalists and scientist-writers have lecture circuits. “TED,” says Sutton, “is sort of like the new Oprah.”

Via: backfill