Have you ever had a favorite author/actor/singer and were so excited to support this talent in a new and diverse space, but found yourself so disappointed and couldnâ€™t go back to idolizing their writing/acting/music?
Iâ€™m going to assume that everyone has suffered through a comparable disappointment. I like to think Iâ€™ve gotten smart over the years and try to limit my intake of new mediums, as to staunch the overflow of disappointment when I realize that just because I love, say, Reba McEntire on her television show, her music ruins it for me. The same holds true for my love of author Joanne Rendellâ€™s contributions to The Huffington Post.
I canâ€™t bring myself to read either of her two novels â€“ even after reading many positive reviews online and staring at her books in the deeply discounted employee gift shop at Penguin. Luckily, sheâ€™s a regular blogger and I follow her on Twitter, so I can get my â€œfixâ€ often.
My favorite article by her is smart, clever, and true, summarized by her declaration: â€œPublishing industry, listen up, itâ€™s time to sell reading.â€
Her article, â€œTime to Sell Reading: What the â€œGoodâ€ Publishing Industry Needs to Learn from the Big â€œBadâ€ Drug Industryâ€ (The Huffington Post, September 8, 2009) brings to light something reminiscent from my advertising days of touting a lifestyle instead of simply a product.
Rendellâ€™s proposition is simple: Portray reading as a hip, trendy, even social activity that vivacious and attractive people engage in; give reading an enviable personality to which consumers aspire to achieve. Comparable to the way pharmaceutical advertisements feature healthy looking people, frolicking through the changes of seasons, publishers should tout the benefit and experience of reading.
Similar to Maria Menuous being the spokesperson for Pantene hair care, I doubt the reading public would revolt at a celebrity match for books. The success of SKINNY BITCH can largely be traced back to the picture snapped by paparazzi of Victoria â€œPosh Spiceâ€ Beckham buying the book. The Belfast Telegraph reports the incredible sales figure mere hours after the photo was published of the book leaping up Amazonâ€™s sales charts â€“ an increase of 37,000%.
Earlier this year, gossip blog Jezebel snapped Sarah Jessica Parker carrying the bestselling book, THE HELP. While the sales implications werenâ€™t as clear on an already popular title, the photo has garnered more than 3,500 views, which undoubtedly seeds awareness of the book.
Are these public, candid photographs the beginning of a new era of book advertising? Will the more literary celebrities become the image of new releases, with publishers bidding against each other to have their choice celeb deeply engrossed in their latest title, with the cover prominently featured? Though some of the more purely literary works may think it cheapens the book industry, I think itâ€™s an idea worth investigation.
Unlike Rendell, I do work in marketing in the publishing industry, and I plan to take her insights and advice to heart. We all know publishing could use some of the monetary zeros the pharmaceutical industry seems to flaunt. As Rendell states in conclusion, â€œBooks can offer us so much. They can offer deep insights, escapism, healing, empathy, knowledge, and revival.â€ Sounds like a worthy investment to me.
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