For far too long, bookstores have sold stuff besides books. It’s time that publishers banded together and attacked bookstores, their business partners and primary retail outlet.
Yes, that idea is crazy, but then so was an article I just read in the Chicago Tribune. A misguided book fetishist wants publishers to start an ad campaign to promote paper books and attack ebook readers like the Kindle, Nook, and the Kindle. Aaron Gilbreath rails against the cleverly designed Kindle commercials that show all of its best features vs paper books, and he thinks it’s time for publishers to strike back.
Publishers should tantalize consumers by evoking books’ sensory pleasures: the smell; the feel in your hands; that crisp, appealing crinkle of a turned page and smooth snap of a dust jacket. Publishers should elicit the joys of “curling up with a book,” the satisfaction of seeing your library on a shelf in your bedroom — the years of your life marked by rows of colorful spines, the pages covered with marginalia. To do this, publishers could borrow vinyl enthusiasts’ lines like, “Records have a certain smell. You can’t smell an MP3,” and, “I associate certain records’ smells with a certain summer, a particular girlfriend.” Audiophiles also discuss fidelity, how records sound undeniably better than MP3s. Surely there’s a book analog waiting to be developed.
I wrote the first paragraph like that just to show you how ridiculous the idea is. Publishers shouldn’t take a position for or against any format; it’s not in their best interest. Their job is to sell as much as possible, not to try to convince people one format (unless one format is a more expensive luxury item, but that’s another matter).
It would make as much sense to attack bookstores as it would to attack the Kindle. At best it would simply shift funds from one of income stream to another and at worst it would alienate customers. Attacking one of your products in favor of another is self-defeating. All it accomplishes is to move money into the ad agency’s pocket while shifting a handful of change around in yours.
But if you really want to go through with it, let me suggest a couple themes for the campaign:
via Mimi and Eunice