Monday, May 25, 2009

The Author Photo

"If you have an attractive looking author, there's a better chance that your book will get reviewed." - Nicholas Latimer, Knopf's director of publicity, quoting a People Magazine editor (via NPR).

I'll be frank, this post's origin lies in a shamelessly shallow conversation between store employees on Sunday night. Yes, shocking as it may be, it's true: we occasionally descend from the literary empyrean to discuss matters less profound than the existential foreshadowing apparent in Dostoevsky's Crime & Punishment or the influence of the nouveau roman on early 21st century Bosnian poetics. Last night, we were trying to come up with a list of attractive authors (and yet remaining vigilant in our service to you, the book-buying public), which led to the ever-so-slightly-less-shallow topic of The Author Photo. (Pictured above, Marisha Pessl, author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics.)

What makes a good Author Photo? Are they necessary? Do you even notice them? Have you - ahem - ever bought a book based on an author photo? I'm fully prepared to admit that I do pay attention to author photos, if only in a casual way. It's often a pleasant or at least amusing distraction on the job. While I'm not an aficionado or savant, I will offer up some memorable author photos, with the invitation to suggest some of your favorites/least favorites or simply remarkable for a certain Je ne sais quoi.

Roberto Bolano, real casual like

To reiterate: Zadie Smith writes books

Norman Mailer, perhaps a little too casual

William Vollmann wrote a 7-volume treatise on violence

Rita Mae Brown wouldn't be complete without her cat

Sammy Beckett could work on his intensity

6 comments:

kpr said...

I'm going to have to go with Arundhati Roy's
photo on The God of Small Things. http://www.salon.com/sept97/00roy.html

Pete said...

I think I only read any of The Sausage Book thanks to the photo and bio on the back. And my life is richer for it.

http://tinyurl.com/qgrs6t

Spiros said...

Dashiell Hammett on the pocket edition of THE THIN MAN: unbeatable.

Roman said...

I'll say it: Marisha Pessl is hot.

Anonymous said...

Best author photo I ever saw was Gary Shteyngart's in The Russian Debutante's Handbook.

Samantha said...

I like how Danielle Steele gets a new one for every book. That's like ten massive taffeta ball gowns a year.
You know who's prettier than her author photo? Vendela Vida.