Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, August 14, 2021

Recently I was sent a review copy of Laurie Sandell’s “The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir”. This book is published by Little, Brown and Company, which is an imprint of Hachette Book Group; and although I’ve had an arrangement with Hachette to blog-review some of their books, I actually received “Impostor’s” outside of that relationship — in fact, I got it via a Twitter giveaway by @littlebrown.

I asked for the book without knowing anything about the author or the subject matter. When I later dug into the publisher’s marketing copy, I got the impression that “Impostor’s” was a woman’s coming-of-age story blended with family history intrigue — basically, nothing that I’d be too interested in. To my chagrin, I regretted my request, and even messaged back about whether or not I was really required to do a writeup (no, I found out).

After that, I dug a little deeper. On its Amazon page, I found out a detail that had been neglected elsewhere: “The Impostor’s Daughter” was a graphic novel! That’s right, a comic book wrapped in a hardcover package. That changed everything for me — even though the subject matter wasn’t my cup of tea, at least it would be presented in a format that was near and dear to my heart, and thus lend itself to readability.

Sure enough, when I got my hands on the review copy, I was instantly engaged by Sandell’s cartoony drawing style and crisp writing, and I got an enjoyable read out of it. Since I’m not required to do a full-blown review of “The Impostor’s Daughter”, I’m not going to. I will give it a thumbs-up overall, because Sandell presents a highly personal story centering upon her mysterious father’s impact on her identity, and that theme definitely drew me in. She executes it quite well, despite an over-reliance upon caption-delivered narrative and a somewhat disjointed closing stretch.

But beyond the book’s contents, my thoughts come back to how Little, Brown is positioning it. Just why aren’t they promoting the fact that “The Impostor’s Daughter” is, indeed, a graphic novel? It’s practically disguised as a regular text nonfiction, from the provided editorial reviews right down to the book’s physical dimensions. Ultimately the subject matter and genre count for more than the format, but knowing if a book is a standard text edition or a graphic novel is a major detail.

My guess is that the publisher is purposely avoiding the graphic-novel label for “The Impostor’s Daughter”. Little, Brown is targeting the standard women’s memoir-reading audience with this book, and those readers might not be amenable to an upscale comic book, despite the familiar literary terrain. Once the book is cracked open, the mystery ends — but before that, copies will be stocked, displayed, and categorized alongside other non-graphical titles so that “Impostor’s” is easily accessible to the target audience. It’s all in the product-positioning and marketing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/14/2009 05:48pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Book Review, Creative, Women
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