Steel, Danielle: The Gift
(researched by Stacy Dudley)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Steel, Danielle. The Gift. New York, New York: Delacorte Press/ Bantam Doubleday Publishing Group, Inc, 1994. Danielle Steel copyrighted the first American edition of The Gift in 1994. In this same year, Bantam Doubleday/Dell Audio Publishing released the sound recording on audiocassette tapes. Both the large print version, the large print book club version, and the first edition Canadian version were published in this same year, as well as the British version, published by Bantam Doubleday/Chivers Press in Bath, England. Sources: Eureka/RLIN
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
2. The first American edition is published in blue trade cloth binding with a dust jacket.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
4. 114 leaves, pp. [i-iv], [1] 2-24 [25] 26-65 [66] 67-79 [80] 81-97 [98] 99-115 [116] 117-135 [136] 137-157 [158] 159-173 [174] 175-181 [182] 183-204 [205] 206-216 Sources: "Descriptive Bibliography: An Online Tutorial" by Stephen Ramsey E-mail correspondence with Stephen Ramsey Gaskell, Phillip. A New Introduction to Bibliography
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
While this novel is not edited or introduced, the author does include a dedication, which states, "To the gifts in my life/ my husband, John, and all my children,/ and to the angels who have passed/ through my life quickly or over time,/ and the blessings they've brought me./ With all my love,/ d.s. Also in the beginning of this edition, the publisher lists the thirty-two other books that Danielle Steel has written, not including The Gift.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations found in this novel.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The dimensions of the pages in this book are 7.5 by 5 inches. The size of the text is 6 by 4 inches. Given these measurements, the margins are of a very acceptable size which makes the book easy to read. The size of the type, which is 61R, and the spacing between the lines of text, makes the book both comfortable and enjoyable.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The pages in this book are made of wove paper. The right edge of each leaf is cut slightly rough and ragged. Each leaf is a cream color. Both the first and last leaf in this novel are made of a thicker, cardboard type stock in light brown. Since this book was recently published, there are no apparent stains or tears in my copy of this novel.
11 Description of binding(s)
11. The binding of this book is in blue cloth, with the author's signature, Danielle Steel, stamped in gold embossed print on the front cover. On the spine, in gold as well, is written, DANIELLE STEEL/THE GIFT/Delacorte Press. Both the author's name and the title of the book are written vertically, while the publisher's name is horizontal. There is nothing written on the back cover. Also in this edition, there is a dust jacket, in yellowish Brown. Stamped in gold is, DANIELLE STEEL/[illustration]/THE GIFT/A NOVEL. The illustration on the dust jacket is a picture of a country farmhouse with a small creek to the left in front of a mountain. The primary colors in the illustration are light and dark blue, medium green, white, and black. The spine of the dust jacket has the same text as the spine on the actual book. On the back cover of the jacket, there is simply a barcode. Source: Gaskell, Phillip. A New Introduction to Bibliography
12 Transcription of title page
The recto side of the title page is as follows: DANIELLE STEEL| THE GIFT| Delacorte Press. The verso side consists of: Published by| Delacorte Press| Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.| 1540 Broadway| New York, New York 10036| Copyright 1994 by Danielle Steel| All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or| transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechani-| cal, including photocopying, recording, or by any information| storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the| Publisher, except where permitted by law.| The trademark Delacorte Press is registered in the U.S. Patent| and Trademark Office.| Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data| Steel, Danielle| The gift- by Danielle Steel| p. cm.| ISBN 0-385 31292-X| I. Title| PS3569. T33828G5 1994| 813'.54-dc20 94-439| CIP| Manufactured in the United States of America| Published simultaneously in Canada| July 1994| 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1| BVG Source: Gaskill, Phillip. A New Introduction to Bibliography
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
While the novel was being printed, the publisher had the original manuscript. After publication, the manuscript was returned to Danielle Steel. Source: E-mail correspondance with Danielle Steel
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Delacorte Press, the original publisher, did issue The Gift in more than one edition. In 1994, Delacorte Press published both the Book Club and Large Print Book Club editions of the novel. They were 208 pages and 351 pages respectively. Also in February 1996, Dell Publishing released the paperback version of the novel with 288 pages for $6.50. There were no major changes between the illustrations and cover art; the main differences were in the size of the type. Sources: WorldCat Books In Print
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
There were 1,000,000 copies of this novel published in the first printing. Sources: Kirkus Reviews Amazon.Com Publisher's Weekly Books In Print
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
There were several editions of The Gift published by other publishers. Macmillan Library Reference: September 1998/ Large Type Edition Dell Publishing: New York, February 1996 G.K. Hall: Thorndike, Maine, 1998 Doubleday: November 1995 Chivers Large Print: Bath, 1995 Bantam: London, 1995 Source: WorldCat
6 Last date in print?
The only edition that is not in print as of 1999 is the Large Print edition published by Chivers Press.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
After I corresponded with Danielle Steel via e-mail, Steel said that she did not have this information available. Source: E-mail correspondance with Danielle Steel
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
In the calendar year 1994, 1,500,000 copies of The Gift were shipped and billed. This figure is rounded down to the nearest 25,000 to indicate the relationship to sales figures that are printed. Source: Bowker Annual, 1995 edition
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
In the January 17, 1994 edition of Publishers Weekly, there is a small advertisement for The Gift. It is found on an advertisement page for Delacorte Press. It lists the time of release, July 1994, a picture of the front cover of the book, and the price, $15/US and $20/Canada. The ad also indicates that the book will be available on BDD Audio Cassette and that it is a main selection of the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club. In addition, there is information concerning the simultaneous release of the Spanish translation, El Regalo. In the July 11, 1994 edition of Publishers Weekly, there is an article written about El Regalo stating the novel would be published in the United States as well. Also in this edition, there is a small article advertising the release of the audio version of this novel. It states that Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio would publish The Gift by Danielle Steel with an unabridged reading by Ron McLarty. This version was to be simultaneously released with the Delacorte hardcover. Source: Publishers Weekly
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
In the May 23, 1994 edition of Publishers Weekly, an article written about The Gift indicated that a major advertisement and promotional campaign was enacted, but I could not find any other indications of this. Source: Publishers Weekly
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
As indicated earlier, The Gift was released on audio cassettes simultaneously with the hardcover edition. There were four cassettes, 390 minutes long, with a price of $19.99. This was available in August 1994 from Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio. Source: Publishers Weekly Books In Print
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Okurimono, Tokyo: Akademi Shuppan, 1998 Podarunek, Warszawa: Prima, 1997 El Regalo, Barcelona: Plaza and Janes, 1996 O Presente, Rio de Janeiro: Record, 1996 Dar, Moskva: Kron-Press, 1995 Sheng Ming Ti K'uei Pao, Hsiang-Kang: Huang-Kuan Ch'u Pan She (Hsiang-Kang) Yu Hsien Kung Ssu, 1995 ha-Matanah: Tel Aviv: Shelgi, 1995 Source: WorldCat
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
[For a broader biography of Danielle Steel, refer to Selena Stellute's entry on Steel's Mixed Blessings.] Many Danielle Steel readers imagine her life to be quite glamorous and full of countless joys. While her fans realize that Steel must work hard in order to write the over sixty books that she has published, many readers do not know of the troubles she has faced in her personal life. One of the most difficult experiences that Steel has endured concerns her late son, Nick. Nick was Steel's first child, born in 1978. He began to speak very early and was bilingual by the age of one. In his early years, Nick started to draw disturbing pictures with the people drawn in black, killing each other, without any type of expression on their faces. In middle school, he began to behave disruptively and became very opinionated, acting much older than he really was. At the same time, many people considered him to be charming and amiable, with a great sense of humor and magnetic personality. Over time, the rages became worse and Nick started getting into trouble at school, which began to confirm Steel's suspicions that there was an underlying issue at the heart of Nick's problems Nick continued to be disruptive so Steel decided to take him to a psychiatrist to find out if he had any mental problems. After consulting between fifteen and twenty different doctors, each one dismissed Nick's problems to typical teenage issues. Many of these same psychiatrists also placed part of the blame on Steel, implying that since she was a famous author, she did not have time to spend with her family. In an interview on ABC's news show, 20/20, Julie Campbell, a drug counselor and friend of both Nick and Danielle said, "It was brutal on Danielle?And they [psychiatrists] say, 'He's fine. The mom's crazy.'" Finally, when Nick was 16 years old, doctors were able to tell Steel that her son had a mental illness called bipolar disorder, better known as manic-depression. After the diagnosis, the doctors gave Nick a prescription for lithium to help control his emotions. For awhile, he began to show great improvement. Nick joined a band, where he was the lead singer, lyricist, and manager. Eventually, the pressures of being a part of the band wore Nick down, forcing the other members to drop him. Being kicked out of the band made his depression even worse, making Nick think that he had nothing else to live for. Several months later, once he reached the age of eighteen and could make his own decisions, Nick decided to quit taking his lithium medication. By this point, he had already attempted suicide three times, which was taking quite a toll on the whole family, especially Steel. In her interview with 20/20, Steel said, "I thought I would die?we almost couldn't save him the first time. But we saw how totally wiped out he was getting. And it was pretty terrifying." Several months later, Nick's sister married and Steel asked her son to walk her down the aisle for the ceremony. As they were walking, Steel said to Nick, "Every child is a gift to their mother. But you have been a gift several times because of what you've done. You have to promise me you'll never do that again." In response, Nick said that he promised to never try and kill himself again. This brief exchange provided Steel with a small sense of hope that Nick was improving in his condition. However, exactly four months after the wedding, Steel received a call in the early morning only to find out that Nick had injected a lethal amount of heroin into his body and ended his own life. When asked on 20/20 why Nick killed himself, Steel responded, "He was afraid that the demons would get him again. Nick said one morning?'No matter how much I put in the bank every day, I wake up broke every morning.' And he woke up with a crushing depression every day." The death of her oldest son has fueled Steel with a new energy to help all parents who have lost a child, especially those afflicted with a mental illness. Steel said, "I would like his life to save somebody else's life. And I'd just like to share his life with people out there and share what we went through and hold their hand while they go through it. It's a tough thing." Steel realizes that manic depression is an often overlooked illness, yet it can be very deadly, with twenty-five percent of all people afflicted with the disease attempting suicide. In 1998, Steel wrote a book dedicated to the memory of her son, entitled His Bright Light. She has also established the Nick Traina Foundation to aid people with mental illnesses especially in children. All of her proceeds from His Bright Light, as well as the agent's fees, will be donated to this fund. Sources: Random House Homepage: http://www.randomhouse.com PR Newswire. "Danielle Steel And NAMI Send a Message of Hope." 23 March 1999. Transcript of Interview with Danielle Steel. ABC's 20/20. 11 September 1998.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The name "Danielle Steel" is familiar to both readers and reviewers alike. Since Steel has written over thirty novels, both fans and critics have begun to classify her novels into a group of their own, with each one being similar to the last. The Gift was received with mixed blessings from reviewers. While some critics praised her for the ability to provoke sincere emotions in her readers, others tended to denounce the novel, citing a varied number of reasons. One of the first things that a reader notices about any novel is the cover. With The Gift, Steel changed the style of the cover from her original large, hard backed cover to a smaller, more concise appearance. Kirkus Reviews praised the new cover of the book, stating, "With a pretty dust jacket and handsome gold lettering, an eye-catching, toasty, heartwarming gift item that should fairly pop off the shelves." Other critics though criticized Steel for this new deviation. Anne Sutherland of the Gazette said, "The first thing you notice about Danielle Steel's new book is that the cover looks vaguely familiar. Why, could it be that the publisher is trying to rip off the hugely successful Bridges of Madison County?" Even though some say that imitation is a form of flattery, Sutherland seems to believe that Steel is trying to follow in the footsteps of Robert James Waller, but not succeeding to any extent in that quest. When Waller wrote Bridges of Madison County, the book itself was rather small for a hardbound book, with a simple design and typography. It lacked much of the flashiness that other bestsellers exhibit on their covers. Sutherland is suggesting that Steel is trying to ride on the coat tails of Waller's success by applying Bridges of Madison County's physical appearance of the cover to her own novel. Also, Sutherland is implying that other readers will notice the cover of Steel's newest novel which will remind them of Waller's successful book, and make the readers think that this novel will be similar to Bridges of Madison County. Not only do the critics differ on their opinions on The Gift's aesthetic qualities, they also differ on their views of her writing style. The Associated Press hails Steel for her ability to involve the reader with her characters, as well as her aptness for evoking emotion. Author Jay-Jay Nesheim says, "?its [The Gift] emotions are raw and powerful enough to make readers suspend their disbelief?". Similarly, a review found in Publisher's Weekly revealed a comparable opinion; "Reading more like a novella than a full-fledged novel, the narrative has well-meaning characters, uplifting sentiments and a few moments that could make a stone weep". Even though some critics praise Steel's novels, there are also reviewers who denounce Steel's writing style and ability to show emotion in her work. Patricia Holt, writer for the San Francisco Chronicle opposes the views of Nesheim and Publisher's Weekly by stating, "Steel writes with uncharacteristic sentiment?you can guess what happens when Maribeth runs away from the convent, but you can always guess what happens-hell, you can write the script yourself-in every Danielle Steel novel". In the Ottawa Citizen, Iris Winston had a somewhat similar complaint. According to her, she felt The Gift to be rather unrealistic and hard to receive. Winston believed that Steel's novel was not believable, which in her opinion, would not appeal to readers.. Certain reviewers were simply appalled that any author could let this type of work be released to the public. Sutherland again states, "The Gift is hackneyed, predictable, and extraordinarily manipulative. Those are its good points?this one [The Gift] looks like she was asleep at her word processor". However, not all critics share Sutherland's opinions concerning Steel's value as an author. In May of 1994, Booklist reviewed The Gift in a much more positive light than Sutherland's review. Stuart Whitewall writes,
"In reviewing the last few Steel novels, Booklist has tried to make the argument that the author and her readers deserve more respect than they get. Steel does not exploit the romance genre for its racy, dark, or semipornographic underpinnings; she has taken one element of the medieval love-tale, adapted its gentle, loving and hopeful outlook to the modern world, and produced a satisfying set of variations on her theme. The Gift is Steel to perfection". Works Cited: Holt, Patricia. "Steel's 'Gift' Comes Wrapped in Cliches." The San Francisco Chronicle 22 July 1994. Kirkus Reviews. Rev. of The Gift by Danielle Steel. 15 April 1994. Nesheim, Jay-Jay. "Danielle Steel Has a Little Gift for Her Readers." Associated Press 9 September 1994. Publisher's Weekly. Rev. of The Gift by Danielle Steel. 23 May 1994. Sutherland, Anne. "Steel rips a page from Waller notebook." Gazette Whitwell, Stuart. Booklist. Rev. of The Gift by Danielle Steel. 1 May 1994. Winston, Iris. The Ottawa Citizen. Rev. of The Gift by Danielle Steel. 21 August 1994.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The name "Danielle Steel" is familiar to both readers and reviewers alike. Since Steel has written over thirty novels, both fans and critics have begun to classify her novels into a group of their own, with each one being similar to the last. The Gift was received with mixed blessings from reviewers. While some critics praised her for the ability to provoke sincere emotions in her readers, others tended to denounce the novel, citing a varied number of reasons. One of the first things that a reader notices about any novel is the cover. With The Gift, Steel changed the style of the cover from her original large, hard backed cover to a smaller, more concise appearance. Kirkus Reviews praised the new cover of the book, stating, "With a pretty dust jacket and handsome gold lettering, an eye-catching, toasty, heartwarming gift item that should fairly pop off the shelves." Other critics though criticized Steel for this new deviation. Anne Sutherland of the Gazette said, "The first thing you notice about Danielle Steel's new book is that the cover looks vaguely familiar. Why, could it be that the publisher is trying to rip off the hugely successful Bridges of Madison County?" Even though some say that imitation is a form of flattery, Sutherland seems to believe that Steel is trying to follow in the footsteps of Robert James Waller, but not succeeding to any extent in that quest. When Waller wrote Bridges of Madison County, the book itself was rather small for a hardbound book, with a simple design and typography. It lacked much of the flashiness that other bestsellers exhibit on their covers. Sutherland is suggesting that Steel is trying to ride on the coat tails of Waller's success by applying Bridges of Madison County's physical appearance of the cover to her own novel. Also, Sutherland is implying that other readers will notice the cover of Steel's newest novel which will remind them of Waller's successful book, and make the readers think that this novel will be similar to Bridges of Madison County. Not only do the critics differ on their opinions on The Gift's aesthetic qualities, they also differ on their views of her writing style. The Associated Press hails Steel for her ability to involve the reader with her characters, as well as her aptness for evoking emotion. Author Jay-Jay Nesheim says, "?its [The Gift] emotions are raw and powerful enough to make readers suspend their disbelief?". Similarly, a review found in Publisher's Weekly revealed a comparable opinion; "Reading more like a novella than a full-fledged novel, the narrative has well-meaning characters, uplifting sentiments and a few moments that could make a stone weep". Even though some critics praise Steel's novels, there are also reviewers who denounce Steel's writing style and ability to show emotion in her work. Patricia Holt, writer for the San Francisco Chronicle opposes the views of Nesheim and Publisher's Weekly by stating, "Steel writes with uncharacteristic sentiment?you can guess what happens when Maribeth runs away from the convent, but you can always guess what happens-hell, you can write the script yourself-in every Danielle Steel novel". In the Ottawa Citizen, Iris Winston had a somewhat similar complaint. According to her, she felt The Gift to be rather unrealistic and hard to receive. Winston believed that Steel's novel was not believable, which in her opinion, would not appeal to readers.. Certain reviewers were simply appalled that any author could let this type of work be released to the public. Sutherland again states, "The Gift is hackneyed, predictable, and extraordinarily manipulative. Those are its good points?this one [The Gift] looks like she was asleep at her word processor". However, not all critics share Sutherland's opinions concerning Steel's value as an author. In May of 1994, Booklist reviewed The Gift in a much more positive light than Sutherland's review. Stuart Whitewall writes,
"In reviewing the last few Steel novels, Booklist has tried to make the argument that the author and her readers deserve more respect than they get. Steel does not exploit the romance genre for its racy, dark, or semipornographic underpinnings; she has taken one element of the medieval love-tale, adapted its gentle, loving and hopeful outlook to the modern world, and produced a satisfying set of variations on her theme. The Gift is Steel to perfection". Works Cited: Holt, Patricia. "Steel's 'Gift' Comes Wrapped in Cliches." The San Francisco Chronicle 22 July 1994. Kirkus Reviews. Rev. of The Gift by Danielle Steel. 15 April 1994. Nesheim, Jay-Jay. "Danielle Steel Has a Little Gift for Her Readers." Associated Press 9 September 1994. Publisher's Weekly. Rev. of The Gift by Danielle Steel. 23 May 1994. Sutherland, Anne. "Steel rips a page from Waller notebook." Gazette Whitwell, Stuart. Booklist. Rev. of The Gift by Danielle Steel. 1 May 1994. Winston, Iris. The Ottawa Citizen. Rev. of The Gift by Danielle Steel. 21 August 1994.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Bestsellers tend to share many similar characteristics, regardless of their genre. Many bestsellers have been part of a Book of the Month club, generating readership through the club's programs. Also, most bestsellers are written by authors who have previously appeared on the bestseller lists. Novels released by such authors as John Grisham, Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton tend to dominate the bestseller list partially owing to the fame of the author. Authors can follow no set formula to ensure a best-selling novel because different characteristics are found in these novels as a whole. Danielle Steel's novel, The Gift, exemplifies the stereotype of a bestseller by a blockbuster author. Steel is a world-renowned novelist, often publishing several books in a year's time. Both readers and reviewers expect certain things from her works, and they are usually not let down. Steel's popularity as an author, the expectations of her readers, the issues examined in the novel, and the aesthetic value of the book explain why The Gift quickly rose to the top of the bestseller's list and why many such novels accomplish this feat. Blockbuster authors, like Danielle Steel, tend to write novel after novel, with each one reaching the top of the bestseller list. Such authors attract a following of readers who immediately purchase the novelist's new work when it is released. A great portion of The Gift's popularity can be attributed to Steel's fame as an author. Those readers who eagerly await the latest novel by Steel will buy the book when it is available, regardless of the content. When authors like Steel and Grisham have such fans that will purchase their novels despite the topic, their books are more capable of reaching the top of the bestseller list. Steel is not only famous here in the United States, but worldwide, appealing to a wide variety of readers. Her fame as a writer enables her books to be viewed automatically as having more potential to reach the bestseller list than the books of an unknown author. When a person is walking into a book store and notices the new releases, he or she is more apt to purchase a novel written by an author like Steel or Grisham, than by an author who's name is not recognized. Simple name recognition can be a key component towards the success of a book and thus those authors who have previously released a successful novel have an edge over other writers in reaching the top of the list. Since Steel is such a familiar author, readers seem to expect certain things from her works. Her readers sit down and anticipate finding a novel that is both heart warming and easy to read. They do not want to concentrate and constantly analyze the events in order to gain an understanding of the novel. For many readers, Steel's books are like a vacation from the real world, even if only for a few hours. Much of Steel's popularity as a novelist stems from these expectations. Her readers want to escape into the lives of other people, into places where everyone ends up living "happily ever after", probably unlike the world in which her fans live. If, for instance, Steel's newest novel was to weave a complex plot where there were many underlying themes necessary for understanding the meaning of the book, her original readers would quickly lose interest in her works. These readers come to her with a desire to relax and unwind, and she is capable of providing this escape for them. A Steel reader from South Carolina says, "This is the kind of book that, in spite of its simplicity and quiet plot, you just can't put down. I found myself drawn to it at every available moment." Authors who can provide his or her readers with a retreat from the world they currently live in, entice these consumers to purchase more of the author's works. Steel's book, The Gift, reinforces her appeal to readers as an author. Even though The Gift still shows very little literary merit, her readers are not concerned, nor do they even expect difficult language. Seemingly only critics are concerned that a blockbuster author like Steel writes in such a simplistic fashion. In one part of The Gift, Steel writes, "He was a good boy, and he did everything he was supposed to do, he did well in school, was loving to them, and still there was enough mischief in him to reassure them that he was normal. He was by no means the perfect child, but he was a good boy." Even though a critic from The San Francisco Chronicle stated that this quote is just an example of how "redundancy is considered high art in Steel novels", fans apparently do not agree with this assessment. The simplicity of Steel's writing is one of the most appealing factors to her readers because of the relaxation it brings them. A 1994 review in Booklist states, "Not great art, perhaps, but in its own way almost perfect." Thus, regardless of the views of the critics, Steel's readers appreciate the language and style that she uses in writing her novels. The Gift remained on the bestseller list for several months until Steel's newest novel was released. Avid Steel fans look forward to her newest works, usually published every couple of months. Once her new book is issued, readers tend to begin purchasing that novel, knocking the older one off the bestseller list. Thus, because of the large amount of books written by Steel over the course of a year, it is difficult for any of her works to remain at the top of the charts after she has released a newer book. Many of her fans view her novels as a group, purchasing another whenever they have the leisure time to read. Steel feels compelled to live up to her fan's expectations of her works. In an interview with Random House, Steel says that knowing how much her readers care about her and her writing keeps her fueled to publish more novels. Whenever she gets discouraged, Steel simply thinks of her readers and works harder to live up to their expectations. In order to create such top-selling novels like Steel has been able to do in the past, an author must have the drive and the willingness to create stories that appeal to his or her readers. The Gift demonstrates Steel's ability to provide her readers with exactly the kind of story for which they are searching. It contains a very simple plot, with few characters and a storyline that is easy to understand. A reporter from Rapport states that the most impressive part of this novel is "the affirmation of the grand design of tragedy and its transcendent message of purpose". In The Gift, Steel focuses on both adoption and the troubles facing an unmarried female preparing to give birth without the help of her family. Since these problems were of issue in 1994 when the novel was published, and still are today, readers can relate to the topics presented. When readers can empathize with the topics in any work, they are more likely to understand the context, and in turn have a higher opinion of the book itself. Though Steel has published over thirty novels, there are still readers who have yet to read any of her works. When a consumer is faced with the daunting task of choosing a novel to select, The Gift presents one main characteristic which sets it apart from other choices. Readers who have not read Steel's books before may be inclined to pick up The Gift because of its cover. This novel is a change aesthetically from earlier books that she has written. The book itself is much smaller, with a more conservative cover. Previously, Steel's novels were released in a large hardcover edition with gold embossed lettering stating her name and the novel's title in flashy print with a small symbol in the center. With this novel, she reduced the size as well as the prominence of the title and her own name. Many critics believe that this change in appearance owes to the success of Robert James Waller's novel, The Bridges of Madison County. His blockbuster book was also a small hardcover novel that remained on the bestseller list for a long period of time. Critics think that Steel is trying to ride on the coattails of Waller's successful novel, especially as far as the cover itself is concerned. Readers who enjoyed Bridges of Madison County could be more inclined to purchase The Gift simply because of the similarity of the cover to Waller's bestseller. A reader who is looking at Steel's novel as a whole would notice how The Gift stands apart from the rest of her works, making the reader more likely to pick up The Gift instead of a wide array of other choices written by Steel. Even those readers who have read a Steel novel previously, but did not enjoy her writing, may be inclined to purchase this novel. Simply because of the style of the cover, these readers may think that Steel has broached a new type of writing. Even those consumers who enjoy Steel's books on a consistent basis would be intrigued by The Gift just as much as those readers who have not previously liked her works. The aesthetic differences alone could interest her readers enough to make them purchase this novel, when they might otherwise have simply checked it out at their local library. Since blockbuster authors write so many novels, many of their works begin to be generalized. Until The Gift, Steel's novels could be categorized based simply on the appearance of her other thirty novels. Similarly, works by authors such as Grisham and Clancy share physical characteristics that enable them to be grouped together by their covers. When a blockbuster author, like Steel, makes such a change in a trait that has remained consistent for seemingly all of her works, as she does in The Gift, readers in general are more likely to consider it for purchase than any other book that remains similar to the rest. Steel's popularity as an author, the expectations of her readers, the issues examined in the novel, and the aesthetic value of the book explain why The Gift quickly rose to the top of the bestseller's list and why many such novels accomplish this feat. The Gift helps to show how blockbuster authors are able to create such a following of fans. Readers begin to form expectations concerning the writing of an author of such fame, and successful writers are able to fulfill the desires of these readers. By examining issues in a novel that readers can relate to and understand, readers begin to better appreciate the author's work, in turn, making them more willing to buy successive novels. But, such blockbuster authors must realize and be willing to make small changes if they want to create growth in the types of people who are reading their novels. Sources: Amazon.com. Http://www.amazon.com (reviews from readers of The Gift) Steel, Danielle. The Gift. New York: Delacorte Press, 1994. Holt, Patricia. "Steel's 'Gift' Comes Wrapped in Cliches." The San Francisco Chronicle 22 July 1994. Whitwell, Stuart. Booklist. Rev. of The Gift by Danielle Steel. 1 May 1994. Gale Literary Databases. http://www.galenet.com. Random House. http://www.randomhouse.com
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