Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Book and Blogger Stuff: the Meds Edition

Stuff:

1. There’s a new issue of The Edge of the Forest out with an article by Mother Reader on how to “Be a B-List Blogger.”

2. Brotherhood 2.0 is teaching you how to be a Nerd Fighter! All you have to do is compose the theme song for your personal Nerd Fighter type.

3. Is anyone else having problems with New Blogger? Not only am I getting more spam, but…yeah: comments, spam, loading weirdness, and I’m really not lovin’ the fact that Word to Blogger program doesn’t work anymore. Anyone else having these problems/complaints?

4. The Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Association Spring show is this weekend, in case y’all are in town and interested.

More Stuff:

So I’ve been sitting here thinking about numbers, specifically sales numbers of books vs. viewer numbers for TV shows. Why is it that Grey’s Anatomy can routinely pull in twenty-five million viewers, but very few books will ever experience those kinds of numbers? What is it about television that has made it a more appealing medium than the written word?

Now, let me make it clear that I don’t expect a single title (that is not Harry Potter) to have the same mass appeal of G.A. You can’t expect that many people to turn to one novel when they have thousands upon thousands a year to pick from when compared to less than the hundred shows on at any hour. Add to that that television feeds into our short attention spans, allowing us to limit our time devoted to any one thing. With a smaller selection to choose from it makes sense that shows can command larger audiences. Even shows considered to be failing (250,000 viewers or less) command a larger audience than most print runs.

But this reduced selection driving higher numbers can be seen in the book world as well, take the success of Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone, for example. As the book club pick of the Starbucks company, A Long Way Gone benefits from not having any direct competition within the Starbucks stores. As the only title present in a store otherwise devoted to coffee and coffee products, the title has a chance to attract both regular readers and those who might never step into a bookstore on their own. This larger audience brings in more sales not only via Starbucks, but by the people who see the book at Starbucks and choose to pick it up at a more traditional outlet. My store had many people who chose to buy the former Starbucks’ title (Mitch Albom’s For One More Day) from us because of our discount card. How do I know this? Well, they’d come right out and tell us.

Is this happening with Beah’s book? I can only assume so when 9,000 copies were sold during the first week in bookstores alone (17,000 were attributed to “other”—read: Starbucks, etc—outlets), which is amazing (at least in my mind) for a debut nonfiction title on heavy subject matter.

So is Starbucks acting like ABC with A Long Way Gone taking the place of Grey’s Anatomy? Is that even possible?

I’ll let those of you not suffering the loopiness of allergy meds figure it out. Let me know your thoughts.

6 comments:

Beth said...

I think you left out an important element: TV is free.

Bound to Read said...

You may be on to something here: if people have less to choose from, more sales will be made on one particular book. However, I think it's more important to offer the wide variety found in a bookstore. From an author's perspective, having the only title displayed in a store is fantastic! But in the end, people deserve to have more to choose from.

Bound to Read said...

How's this for synchronicity? Check out The Written Nerd's review of So Many Books

Chris said...

I agree with Beth, but there is also less energy spent watching tv. For books, you have to go to the bookstore, decide what you're going to spent good money on and take it home. Then you start reading, it might take a while to get interesting and what if it never does?!

With tv, you turn it on. If the program stinks, you just turn the channel and there's bound to be something watchable somewhere.

Kelly said...

Thanks so much for The Edge of the Forest mention!!

Wesley Smith said...

Hey, sorry. If you're composing a personal themesong to fight nerds, you've already lost.