Big Publisher Tries to Orchestrate Buzz for Book Titled “Untitled” by Anonymous

July 28th, 2011

So what’s the book about?

“Untitled,” by Anonymous, was described as a 320-page, nonfiction, hardcover book with photos that will retail at $26.99. Order the book now, the publisher said, to ensure delivery by its November release date.

It is, the e-mail said, “the inside story of life with one of the most controversial figures of our time.”

The Times suggests its about Madoff. Whatever, don’t really care about that. What I care about is the massive embargo.

In its e-mail the publisher promised a “massive media rollout” with a confirmed “60 Minutes” appearance. Bookstores were instructed to comply with a highly orchestrated release on Nov. 14, with no sales permitted until then, an embargo arrangement typically reserved for splashy debuts of political memoirs or Bob Woodward books.

What I am curious about, is how they expect to sell an embargoed book in the year 2011. Are they not going to accept presales on Amazon? Will it be available on Kindle right away? This embargoed approach kills any blogosphere buzz in advance (lest the book get leaked to bloggers).

Here’s what one book store owner said:

Gayle Shanks, an owner of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., said she reluctantly ordered 10 copies of the book after receiving the publisher’s e-mail.

“The note I sent back to my sales reps was, ‘I hate these books,’ ” Ms. Shanks said. “Generally we don’t know what they are, so we have no sense of how large it’s going to be. But you cannot not buy it.”

This just seems like a foolish way to market a book. To quote Ghostbusters, “Print is dead.”