From The New York Times:
In the past few years, the book party as buzz-generator has been eclipsed by the elegant prepublication lunch, where publishers invite a few dozen editors and critics to a three-course meal at a swish restaurant to promote one or more titles they’re pushing that season. Publishers may also organize small events nationwide to start the chattering classes chattering. “It’s more helpful in getting attention city by city with influential people in the book world,” said the literary agent Ira Silverberg. “You could take over Yankee Stadium for Salman Rushdie and I don’t know if it’s going to matter to an independent bookseller in Pasadena.”
Decoded, today’s book party invitations often read something like this: Four friends of the author — two married money, one inherited it, the other made it — invite you to celebrate the publication of this wonderful new book at the house of whoever in the group has the biggest living room. Even in the most elegant venue, you’re likely to find a credit card machine and books for sale. Of course, there are the glamorous exceptions. Tina Brown, who with her husband, Harry Evans, still entertains in style at their Sutton Place apartment, recalled a party she held for Sidney Blumenthal, a former White House adviser, when his “Clinton Wars” was published in 2003. “Bill turned up with Barack Obama, and then was the last to leave,” Brown said.