Ride a black horse … woman of letters Katie Price launches her book in a satin bikini with matching mantilla. Photograph: Ferdaus Shamim/Getty Images
You are doubtless aware that these are difficult times for the book publishing industry. Physical book sales are down 5% year on year, with the increase in ebook sales insufficient to compensate. In Britain, the number of high-street bookshops has almost halved: 2,000 have closed since 2006.
Lost in Showbiz wouldn't pretend to know how to counter these problems, but it thinks it knows a woman who might. It gently draws the attention of the Publishers Association to the fragrant figure of Katie Price
, and, more specifically, the whirlwind launch last week of In the Name of Love
. This, you will be eager to learn, is the eighth in the brain-melting series of novels she once announced she "doesn't physically write"
, a reference perhaps to their basis in metaphysics, their restless probing of what Aristotle called aporia. Having spent time with In the Name of Love's predecessor, Santa Baby, Lost in Showbiz can confirm that few novels have ever caused it to question so thoroughly the very nature of being: no sooner do you start it than you find yourself wondering if there is any point in being alive.
But we digress. Back to the launch. What an event! Here was an occasion special even by the standards of previous Katie Price launches, including the one where she chose to promote her range of personalised iPods by appearing with them strapped to her head. It opened with the author appearing on a live, rearing black stallion and dressed in an orange satin bikini and matching mantilla. Lost in Showbiz offers up this image to the great and the good in the world of letters and says: frankly, my learned friends, you can stuff your essay-length review in the TLS and your learned profile in the Paris Review's Writers at Work series. This is how you get a novel noticed. It notes with interest that Martin Amis
claimed to have read a number of Price's autobiographies as research and respectfully suggests that if he had taken a few pointers from their author vis-à-vis how to launch a novel, then perhaps the reviews of Lionel Asbo might have been a little kinder. It can't help but think if he had spent a little less time at the Hay literary festival boring on about the state of the nation and a little more time galloping about the site astride a noble thoroughbred, clad only in a pair of revealing swimming trunks, then the world would be a happier place. Come on, Marts! Get your Speedos on and saddle up!
Under any normal circumstances, this would clearly have been the highlight of the occasion. But it proved to merely be the amuse-bouche before the gut-busting main course that was the subsequent press conference, as reported in the indispensible journal of record Now! magazine
. It was here that, while fielding questions about her former husband, cross-dressing kick boxer and new dad Alex "The Reidinator" Reid, that Price chose to favour the world with the information that she had once inserted a vodka bottle into his rectum.
In response, one onlooker reported, "the room fell silent".
Lost in Showbiz doesn't doubt that it did. Perhaps the assembled hacks were stunned by the sense that they had just witnessed history in the making. It's easy for hacks to be tired and jaded, but here was something genuinely new: a woman plugging a novel she hadn't actually written by publicly claiming that she'd sodomised her transvestite ex-husband with a vodka bottle. You don't get that on Radio 4's Open Book.
Or perhaps they were ruminating on the many additional questions raised by this revelation. What brand was involved? Do we espy a new opportunity for the former Jordan to implement one of her lucrative promotional deals with them? And, not least, what long-term effect might her revelation have on her former paramour's drinking habits? There's presumably only so many times a man can hear a bartender sniggeringly ask "Do you want that on the rocks, or does Sir prefer to … take it straight up?" before he decides to cut his losses and go teetotal.
Or perhaps they were simply noting that Price had now significantly raised the bar of literary marketing twice in the space of a single day. First, the rearing stallion/bikini combination. Now, Vodka Bottle Up The Bum-gate. Once again, Lost in Showbiz finds its thoughts turning to Martin Amis, delivering his next coruscating satire on the shortcomings of the underclass to his publisher, and discussing the subsequent publicity campaign. "Of course, Martin, in the past, your reputation and a series of broadsheet interviews in which you loudly decry the moral decrepitude of Britain would have been more than enough to secure a prime position in Waterstones. But I'm afraid the goalposts have shifted since we last met. I might as well ask you: have you ever stuck a vodka bottle up someone's bum? Perhaps you might consider it? Well, they don't have to enjoy it. Tell them to lie back and think of the Sunday Times Bestseller List."