Harlequin Picks Up “Sh*t Girls Say” Book, but can publishing keep up with internet memes?

By Lori Culwell

Harlequin has just announced that they are getting into non-fiction, and how they just signed a book contract with Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard, who, in case you don’t know them, are the creators of this popular internet meme:



This meme went viral back in December and prompted a zillion knock-offs, including “Sh*t Hippie Girls Say, Sh*t Seattle People Say, Sh*t Asians Say,” and so on.

Is this a great idea for a book?  Maybe.   The fact that the videos have gotten 26 million views is  awesome, and 1 million Twitter followers ain’t too shabby, but here’s the thing:  most internet memes have the shelf life of a banana, and trying to capture these memes in traditional forms like publishing or television is often an exercise in “too little, too late.”   Case in point:  my first thought when I read this headline was “I was tired of that meme two months ago– they better get that book out soon while people are still moderately interested.”   This lead me to read the entire article, where I discovered that the book is coming out in HARDBACK form in October of this year, meaning ten long months will have passed in between the YouTube videos going viral and the supporting book coming out.

Not to seem melodramatic, but in Internet Time, ten months is like ten years, and I truly fear that once this book comes out, the potential market will have moved on to the next cat video, or talking puppy (or whatever clever thing is coming next).    Publishing has to understand that speed is key when trying to monetize these memes.  This makes me wonder– does Harlequin not have an eBook division that could crash a digital edition in the next couple of months to keep people interested while they work on the hardback for its October release?  This seems like money left on the table.    Let us never forget the terrible fate of the grandaddy of this meme, the “Sh*t My Dad Says” tv show, which ran for 18 episodes way back in 2010-2011.   This is another example of how traditional media like publishing (and in this case, television) gets there too late, after the bloom is off the meme rose.

I guess what I’m saying is, good for Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard for getting a book deal, but I’m also wondering– why are they not putting books out themselves?  Why is Harlequin waiting until October to get their book out?  And, come fall of 2012, will anyone still care about the Sh*t That Girls Say?