15 May 2011

Marlene Dietrich: The eBook Issue

If you read this blog, I want you to take action and tell me how to take action. Here's why:

I can only find 2 Marlene Dietrich biographies available in eBook format--Charlotte Chandler's and one by a David Stuart Ryan.


Steven Bach's biography, Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend, was reprinted this year, perhaps to ride on Chandler's coattails. Why wasn't it released in eBook format? Would the cost of making it compatible with the kit and caboodle of eBook readers (e.g., iPads, Nooks, Kindles) currently outweigh its potential eBook sales? This little article that mentions the publisher responsible for reprinting Bach's book, The University of Minnesota Press, makes me wonder. Naturally, I'm aware that university publishers struggle to compete with commercial publishers such as Chandler's Simon & Schuster.

Why, then, isn't Maria Riva's Marlene Dietrich already in eBook format? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe she's in publisher's no-man land because Random House still has a page about her book. By the way, why didn't William Morrow--the publisher of Bach's 1st ed. bio--reprint his paperback? How did University of Minn. Press acquire permission to reprint it (for that matter, why did Da Capo reprint it in 2000)? And when? Bach's been dead since 2009.

You may have noticed that Amazon has a simple link allowing viewers to request books in Kindle format, but that stupid thing appears on EVERY page (as if you can convince THIS publisher to format Pierre Louys' book for a Kindle--imbeciles!).

How, then, can we push for the release of Bach and Riva's books in eBook format? Chandler's book should not be the most accessible work on Dietrich's life and career, and people who prefer eBooks should not have to resort to Chandler's bio in the absence of other Dietrich bios. They are already attracted to Chandler's book because it's prominently displayed and discounted in traditional print format at chain bookshops such as Barnes & Noble. Also, it's generating positive buzz online. I reviewed it, too, but I certainly didn't praise it. While I wouldn't tell people NOT to read it, I would enthusiastically recommend Bach and Riva's books. As long as Marlene Dietrich bios can generate blogger buzz and prime shelf space in bookstores, Bach and Riva's books should be alongside them.


  1. I think Peter Riva mentioned on the Dietrich facebook page that they intend to publish an expanded ebook version of Maria Riva's book.

  2. Thanks for the tip! Yes, I see mention of it in a Jan. 26 wall post, and it will be expanded with more images. Well, I hope it comes out soon to give the Chandler ebook some competition. Now's the time to do it, and not just in English. Dietrich's name (with or without quotes) spiked this year in Google Trends, but I question its accuracy. Is English really not a top 10 language? Is the U.S. or the U.K. really not a top 10 region?