It’s not surprising that Meghan Markle announced her book project the same week as the Duchess of Cambridge. Perhaps the California native was hoping that interest in her work would overshadow the Duchess’, but as it turns out, that’s not the case.
According to reports, it appears like the Duchess of Cambridge’s book “Hold Still,” which was written in connection with the National Portrait Gallery is a runaway hit.
Meghan’s book, not so much with critics calling it both “dull” and generally unsuitable for children.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s book is the continuation of her project Hold Still, which encouraged people from across the U.K. to submit photos taken that show the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Proceeds from the sales of the book will support her patronage, the National Portrait Gallery, which she visited on May 7 as part of the book release.
There’s also a rather clever marketing campaign where copies of the book are being left by the “Book Faries” for people to discover, much like a treasure hunt. Some are begin left by the people who contributed photos to the campaign, and some have a letter from the Duchess of Cambridge inside.
In terms of marketing, it’s a great strategy and cements that this entire endeavor was done to encourage people and raise money for important causes, with both the NPG and Mind, a mental health charity, splitting the proceeds.
It could also be seen as almost a yearbook of 2020 in the U.K.
On an Amazon review, Mila Olijudge wrote, “Absolutely beautiful book, a keepsake for years to come. Well done to the 100 finalists, NPG and also the Duchess of Cambridge for spearheading this.”
An anonymous reviewer shared, “Have been waiting for this book to come out having seen some of the photos last year. Lost 3 people during the pandemic – it speaks volumes to us all…”
This book is going to continue to inspire for years to come. The Duchess’ book is considered a runaway success by most measures. Amazon already reporting a delayed shipment of 1 to 3 weeks, showing that demand is more than the supply.
So, what about Meghan Markle’s new book. Besides causing initial outcry over her using her title, her lack of seeming familial bonds and allegations of copying another publication, the fervor has not really translated to strong sales. At least, not right now.
On the U.K. Amazon website, the book has already dropped from #28 spot to #68 on the best seller list. It will likely fall off completely in the next day or so.
In the United States, where the price of her book is only trending at #58 on the best sellers list, and has dropped significantly when it comes to audio books, from #2,174 to #8,290. That’s not a surprise, as people are being asked to pay $5.00 for just 10 minutes of audio, at least 30 seconds or more will be taken up by introductions and acknowledgements as well.
While not terrible, it’s likely that the Duchess of Montecito was expecting more from her first publication, as she has publicly shared with others that “(she) loves writing and she’s very good at it.”
But perhaps what’s most concerning for her publishers are the arguments that her book, which is being marketed as a children’s book, will no doubt be “dull” for its intended audiences, who prefer “bears” and not “benches.”
Royal commentator Angela Levin said on True Royalty TV’s The Royal Beat, “Children’s books are directed at children. They like elephants, they like nasty tigers. They do not want a lecture about how different your relationship is with your father, whatever level of society you are at.
“This is a book for adults, not for children. Children are not interested in being told all of that. Also, it is a very dull cover.”
Ouch. The Times of London is not much better, with Janice Turner arguing, “Where’s the fun in The Bench? It doesn’t have a bear under the stairs (Helen Cooper) or a tiger coming for tea (Judith Kerr) or an elephant schooling a bad baby (Raymond Briggs) or pigs aplenty, pigs galore (David McPhail). The Bench is a children’s book for adults to buy other adults because, in the publisher’s blurb, “it touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between fathers and sons.’”
Though no one has seen the end result of the book’s performance yet, it’s likely that these arguments have a fair amount of truth. It even calls into question whether or not Meghan knows much about children, as this is being advertised to ages 1-7. A book about a bench, written by a woman for her husband, is unlikely to resonate with children. If she’s hoping to create the next, “I Love You Forever” book, which remains at #82 on the Amazon best sellers list, it seems like she’s failed.