As news of pop star Whitney Houston's death began to circulate, a number of enterprising authors sat down and got busy at their keyboards. The fastest workers managed to publish their Kindle e-books the very day Houston died: six new titles about her in Amazon's Kindle store bear Feb. 11 as their publication date. By the time the weekend was over, another eight had been added to the list.
The 14 newly-published Whitney Houston Kindle e-books range in price from 99 cents to $9.99. There is a book comprised of fan tributes, a 10-page handwriting analysis, a German edition of a gossipy book about Houston and ex-husband Bobby Brown, and a book of new poems about her. Of course, there are a couple of unauthorized biographies, hastily stitched together. In fact, one is made up entirely of Wikipedia pages about Houston, her films, and her music; author Ira Krakow ("The Lady Gaga Story," "The Amy Winehouse Story") charges $3.99 for it.
So, does the gimmick work? None of the 14 newly minted Houston books have cracked Amazon's Top 100 paid Kindle e-books list. But they do seem to be finding a place.
The most popular -- "Whitney Houston We Love You Forever" by Jean-Pierre Hombach -- reached No. 16 in the subcategory of music biographies, behind memoirs by Steven Tyler, Keith Richards and Sammy Hagar. Hombach is a high-volume author of unauthorized, unofficial e-book biographies, primarily about musicians, including Bob Marley, Justin Beiber and Beyonce. Monday afternoon it had slipped to No. 18.
It must be pretty difficult to write a book -- even if you're just reformatting some Wikipedia pages -- in a few hours. But the fact that those books have not yet risen to the top of the e-book charts may signal that readers want something more. When it comes to a book about the ill-fated pop singer, they may be ready to wait for one that can tell the whole story.
Photo: Whitney Houston performs in 2000. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times