Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's A Gasser!

Somehow, I think Marvin Acme would approve of this.

Acme, of course, loved his disappearing, reappearing ink and in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, loved squirting it on anyone he could spoof with it.

Now a publisher in Argentina has hit upon the disappearing ink part as a marketing strategy for new authors: Buy one of their books but read it quick, because within two months the special ink, once exposed to light and air, will slowly fade away, leaving you not with a book from a new author but by an artfully-bound package of note- or scrap-paper.

Yeah, I said it. Scrap paper.

Here's their promo video:

I'm a funny kind of guy. When I buy a book -- whether it's by an author I'm familiar with or not -- I like to keep it. I re-read many of the books I own, sometimes if they're bad but especially if they're good. The idea of buying a book only to have it rendered unreadable in a few months doesn't ride well with me.

The publisher in this video offers the disappearing books as a way to get new authors read, to create a sense of urgency among book buyers to buy and read books and then, two months later, go buy it again if they liked it. This, they argue, will get more new authors' books sold and help them move on to becoming authors of multiple books, rather than just one that goes unread because people bought it -- or didn't -- and then didn't read it.

It's not urgency. It's not helping new authors. It's a marketing gimmick to get people to buy books. And then, perhaps, to buy them again.

I am as yet an unpublished author. I have one book written, others in the wings. I hope to publish within the next few years, after I've polished things a bit. But the idea of selling my book to a publisher who wants to use it as an Acme gasser in order to sell more books under the guise of "helping" me? Not so sure about that. I can accomplish much better things going the ebook route and taking a risk that my work just isn't good enough to merit continuing, rather than going through the process of writing a book, seeing it sold and then seeing my audience get a litle peeved when my words literally disappear before their eyes. Ebooks are already making words more insubstnatial; I don't think we need traditional publishing houses going the same route.

The LA Times seems to like it, and implies -- parroting what's said in the video -- that the first run of books with the Acme ink sold out. Nobody's telling us how many were sold, however, so the success of the project is right now mere PR fluff, nothing more.

Mashable likes it, too, but again, no numbers.

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