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WSJ News Exclusive | Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover Is in Its Early Chapters, But a Book Is Already Coming

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“Breaking Twitter” is expected to be published next fall by Grand Central Publishing, a unit of

Lagardère


MMB 1.16%

SCA’s Hachette Book Group.

The deal is the latest example of how quickly books about current events—from the 2021 saga with

GameStop

to the 2018 Thai boys cave rescue—are pitched and sold in recent years. That growth is fueled in part by streaming services’ appetite for original content, publishing executives said.

“Moving fast is extremely important,” the book’s author, Ben Mezrich, said in an interview. “If the whole world is excited by something, you want to be a part of the conversation.”

Ben Mezrich.



Photo:

Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Mr. Mezrich—who said he has published 25 books so far, including the one that was the basis for the movie “The Social Network”—said he has never taken more than six months to write a book and tends to focus on topics that he thinks have movie potential.

“There’s so much interest that books are being sold as the stories are developing,” said Karyn Marcus, executive editor at Grand Central Publishing, who will edit Mr. Mezrich’s “Breaking Twitter.” Even if the Twitter story isn’t complete by the time Mr. Mezrich is finished with his manuscript, there will be enough compelling developments and decisive moves for readers to be interested, she said.

Mr. Musk offered to buy Twitter in April and gained control of the company in late October.

“Elon Musk is one of the most complex characters of our time,” Mr. Mezrich said. He said his coming book would cover “the culture clash between the right and the left, but also about what free speech means.”

Mr. Mezrich has plenty of competition.

 PHOTOS: How Elon Musk Made His Fortune

Walter Isaacson,

author of bestselling biographies about

Steve Jobs,

Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo da Vinci, said he is working on a biography of Mr. Musk. The book will be published by

Paramount Global

‘s Simon & Schuster, said Amanda Urban, his literary agent.

Bloomberg technology reporter Kurt Wagner, who earlier this year sold a biography of Twitter co-founder

Jack Dorsey

to Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books, said in an interview that his book project has evolved since Mr. Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

“I definitely plan to report extensively on the Elon-Twitter takeover,” said Mr. Wagner, who has written about Twitter since 2013.

It has been a challenging year for publishers. Print book sales are down 6.2% so far this year, according to book tracker NPD BookScan. Nonfiction is faring even worse, with sales down 11% during the same period.

Mr. Mezrich is known in publishing circles for his ability to write and report quickly on current events. His GameStop book, “The Antisocial Network: The GameStop Short Squeeze and the Ragtag Group of Amateur Traders That Brought Wall Street to Its Knees” was written as the story was unfolding in early 2021 and published in September of that year. A movie version, titled “Dumb Money” and directed by Craig Gillespie, is in post-production.

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Mr. Mezrich said he doesn’t care if some of his books don’t have a clean ending. What matters to him, he said, is to capture moments that he thinks deserve to be told.

“I approach my stories as thrillers that happen to be true,” he said.

His previous books include 2002’s “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions,” which was turned into a feature film starring Kevin Spacey, “21.” His 2009 book, “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook—A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal” was later adapted to become “The Social Network” starring Jesse Eisenberg.

Mr. Mezrich’s new book has drawn interest from Beau Flynn, a veteran Hollywood producer. “What we have is a great character study in Elon Musk and an important business story that is culturally relevant,” Mr. Flynn said in an interview.

Twitter has been in turmoil since Elon Musk took over. To get a sense of what’s going on behind the scenes, The Wall Street Journal spoke with former Tesla and SpaceX employees to better understand how Musk leads companies. Illustration: Ryan Trefes

Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at [email protected]

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



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