Monday, June 16, 2008

Books as advertisements

Today while reading the postings of the ongoing "We are being wronged by other people despite the fact that we are equally as guilty of doing the same to them" campaign, I had to smile.

We would all like to think that our leaders in the various esoteric Orders are geniuses. Hopefully, magical geniuses, spiritual geniuses, or even (if all else fails) geniuses at doing research. More often than not, they are not geniuses.

Or if they are geniuses, it is in marketing.

Not that there is anything wrong with being an advertising genius. I wish that I was a marketing genius. The pay would be much better than being a forty-two year old college junior. Or one would hope. Of course, I would not use my marketing genius to further than ends of an esoteric Order (I hope); I would rather market my way to the top of the New York Times best seller list after writing some cheesy sci-fi novel.

But despite not wanting to dirty my own hands in such a manner, I must admit that I admire those marketing geniuses that have decided that running an esoteric Order is a nice gig. I may not get along with any of them as my experiences have proven time and time again, mainly due to the fact that my desire for an esoteric lodge is more along the lines of the Freemasons and not the monolithic Orders that the marketing geniuses think I should be willing to join. Just because you don't approve of the goal does not mean that you can not admire the technique behind the madness.

The latest hubbub is about an out-of-print book. I will not mention the name of the book. Someday, I might review it. Or maybe not. What you need to know if you have not read the latest issue of "Why do people pick on us all the time after we pick on them" is that the book occasionally goes for a pretty penny in the used book market.

Owning a copy of the book, I do not understand why it goes for so much. I have a theory that involves suckers and how often they are born. Pretty much, any out-of-print occult book will fetch a nice sum on the used book market if you can find the right buyer (one with lots of cash and less wit).

This whole round of complaining started off with someone claiming that the book was being sold for an outrageous amount in some circles. Ok, personal opinion time: it is overpriced. The original price was maybe a little too high; but considering that was a vanity press item, it was in the ballpark for a book of that size. Yes, this book was vanity press; the publisher existed for this book, and this book only.

Of course, some of the vanity press authors I have tangled with will note that I always complain about the prices of PODs and vanity press books (POD: Print on Demand). There is a reason for this: my wallet is small and the small print runs make the prices high. It is nothing personal unless the book is unfit for anything other than toliet paper.

In the case of this particular book, it might have other uses. Unfortunately, I must admit that most of the information in the book is lifted from other sources. But let's be honest, that is normal in the occult book section. And yes, technically it is plagiarism if they do not mention their sources by name.

But that is not what I really want to talk about.

What I want to talk about is the marketing genius behind the book. Based on the book, he is not a genius in magic. But considering he runs an esoteric Order, he might reserve his better secrets for his membership. And based on his conduct, he is not a genius in the spiritual sense. I could be wrong on that account also. I did not detect any great genius in his ability to research, or cobble it together in writing (he could have done more with less pages).

But I had to admire the marketing genius. As a person who have ran a couple of businesses, I saw the real purpose of the book instantly. It was to advertise his Order. Plain and simple.

And his decision not to ever reprint the book. Definitely genius. I wish that I was as intelligent when it came to my own work. But then again, I am an elected officer, and pretty lazy when it comes to trying to grow the membership of my own local lodge. More members mean more work, and I would rather write science fiction than dusty old knowledge lectures. Heaven forbid that the Order that I belong to becomes a Big Name Order.

The genius of not reprinting the book boils down to if you want the information that is in the book, you have just two choices. One: buy the book for an outrageous amount on the used book market. Or two: join his Order.

Now he claims that you get the information for free inside his Order. I would like to call a reality check here. Correct me if I am wrong, but don't Order members have to pay dues? If you have to pay dues to access the information, then it is not free. (No, I don't get along with Union reps, or used-car salesmen either. Thanks for asking). And there do not mention how long you have to remain a member to get access to all the information; it could be years and years; again, there are dues to be paid.

Nevertheless, despite the small fib, you have to admire his moxie. He wrote a book, published it himself, as an advertisment for his Order. He managed to sell all the copies, or at least I hope he did; and now that it is out-of-print, he is still using it to advertise his Order.

Pure marketing genius. As I said, I wish that I was as smart with my own work.

1 comment:

Frater Yechidah said...

You are, as you've managed to plug your book in a post about someone else's book ;)

Just wanted to say that I know exactly what you mean. I don't know what book you're referring to, but I've seen it happen before, and, of course, used occult books are a rip-off.

I have some plugging of my own to do. You might have seen my link already "elsewhere", but here's it again in case you missed it:

I've decided to start a new G.'.D.'. blog. I've added you to my links.