When Warner books decided to hand over "a great deal of money" to the writers at "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," says Jamie Raab, senior VP-publisher, Warner Book Group, it ended up a textbook case of success. Literally.
In September (in time to stir up a little trouble during the presidential election), the company published "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction." Designed to look like a high-school textbook, "America" offers up a dead tree version of "The Daily Show's" special take on the American political system.
"When we started, we thought this was a book for "Daily Show" fans. But once we got into it, and started seeing fully designed pages, we realized it could appeal on a broader level. By the time we were done, we were thoroughly convinced the book should be read by every person on the planet, except people who live on the island of Corsica. It's too sophisticated for them," says Ben Karlin, 34, executive producer of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."
They haven't quite attained world literary domination but have managed to release 2.3 million-plus copies of "America" into the world, according to the publisher. "The problem was keeping up with demand," says Ms. Raab, 51.
As for the division of labor between Warner and "Daily Show" staff, "[we] helped with the creative aspect of marketing-like coming up with funny ad copy," says Mr. Karlin. "But Warner did all the work in terms of strategy and implementation. Getting the book excerpted, reviewed, booking Jon in various media ... you name it, Warner did it. If anything, we had to rein them in, because at a certain point, even we were getting sick of us."
One of the most successful marketing programs was in partnership with Amazon.com. Mr. Stewart taped a video message that was posted on the site-"it was vintage Jon Stewart," says Ms. Raab-and fans passed word of the video along at Net speed.
Warner and "The Daily Show" plan to publish a follow-up at some undetermined time in the future. "Right now we're spending all of our time trying to come up with the idea that takes the least amount of work," deadpans Mr. Karlin. "So far, we've isolated a bunch of literature that is in the public domain. ... Or a kid's book. How long do they have to be, like 25 pages? Maybe one of those."