Book Advertising. The Hackiest of the Hack.
(the below comments do not apply to the one excellent NYC publishing house that I have done work for, a house that has been very willing to try new, fresh approaches)
The Book Publishing Industry is dying. And it ain’t a quietly-in-its-sleep death. It’s a getting-hacked-to-pieces-by-machetes death. And speaking of hack, have you ever taken a good look at book advertising? Open any New York Times Arts Section to the book page and look at the ads—every single one of them looks EXACTLY the same: big jacket shot, surrounded by “Read it today!”—USA Today; “Entertaining read!”—Entertainment Weekly; and other such asinine attributes (at right, we have the brilliant move of repeating the author's name and title as the "headline"). Not one of the ads provokes even a slight glance in its direction. One of the reasons for this is that book ads are not placed to sell books. They are placed to literarily suck off the author/agent. Another reason is that most book publishers have the visual imagination of a dead slug. If one brave rogue publishing house would step away from the crap pack and actually adopt a well-designed campaign look for their ads, and then truly give readers an inkling of a notion as to what the experience of reading the actual advertised book might be, well, that house would become a FUCKING STAR. Savvy authors would be begging them to sign them. But, the publishers now are just too frightfully desperate to try anything even a smidgen different, let alone adventurous, to attract the new readers they desperately need. They’re a group of neutered pussies. And they’re as good as dead.