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Marketing a book in an increasingly visually driven society is a tough role. Not to mention the ever decreasing number of people who actually read (books that is, not this stupid blog). According to statistics from sources that sound legit* 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year [2002]. I’m hoping this figure can be taken literally to mean that these families did not physically purchase the book as a single group, with each member holding an edge of the book and simultaneously placing it on the bookstore counter. I would have never thought any family to do such a thing, so really the 20% of families who do is pretty eye opening. Unfortunately, the literal interpretation is a ridiculous dream. The truth is, most people simply do not read books.

But don’t fret my fellow 20%-ers. Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment banker** says that each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines. Why is this good? Because more and more authors are turning to just such TVs (or computer monitors; they’re both square and full of pixels) in order to push their wares.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

Douglas Coupland’s 3 spot campaign for his novel, Gum Thief (a YouTube page)

Dennis Cass’s spot for his memoir, Head Case:

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Oddly enough however, I don’t own either of the two advertised novels. The ads worked well for me aesthetically, but considering my current stack of 53 too-read books I’m just not in the market for more quite yet. So consider this post simple word-of-screen advertising.

* Jenkins Group, inc; they have the word “group” in their name. Nothing more is needed to connote reputability.
** Why is an investment banker devoting time to these sort of statistics? I don’t care; they are associates! See above asterisk for the power of organizational tags.
Here’s the for real page from which these statistics were pulled


  1. I agree, book promo videos are beginning to pop up on YouTube and other places. I’m not sure they are great marketing mechanisms as those on YouTube are not necessarily the audience that does a lot of reading, but they are an interesting new twist on book marketing.

  2. I think that as long as the book promo videos don’t try to acknowledge the physical appearance of characters and locales then I might me more swayed by them. I hate watching a book promo that tries to tell me what characters and places look like. It’s like reading the book after watching the movie; always a let down.

  3. I’m encouraged–if only slightly–by the fact that every time I kill an afternoon in one of the many used bookstores in and around Rochester, the common age of said browsers is usually in the range of 18 to 35. Without the exception of the Romance section I hardly see anyone under the age of 50 other than the owners. Hey, it’s something we can hope for.

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