Monday, November 29, 2010

Guerrilla Book Marketing

Of all the subtle beauties of my current parking spot, chief among them is its position: first in line after the sign dividing commercial parking from alternate-side. When the street sweeper comes, the car in this position has the best chance of getting its spot back, with the minimum of anxiety. It helps that there is no parking directly across the street: only a curb cut leading to a door that opens like a portcullis, admitting cars one at a time into a big elevator cage. So when the Broom comes, as it did this morning at 7:45, I have only to start up my engine, back up a bit, pull out as if into a diagonal spot across the street, leaving room for the Broom to pass, and then reverse back into position before through traffic can get tangled up with the parkers and foil our enterprise.

This is such a fine spot that I could sit here for a half hour twice a week and watch the seasons change. The pigeons were absent this morning, and the yellow leaves of the ginkgo had mostly fallen. In front of me was a silver-gray Dodge Charisma with New Jersey plates. I had not heard of the Charisma before, for a very good reason: when I looked again, I saw that the word formed by the chrome letters was not Charisma but Charger. I like Charisma better. (Detroit, take note.)

Over the long holiday weekend, I practiced the art of guerrilla book marketing. Curious about where the various bookstores have been shelving “Freud’s Blind Spot,” the anthology of sibling experiences that I contributed to (Simon and Schuster, $15; here’s the Amazon link), I went first to Barnes & Noble and asked for it at the information desk. It was in Relationships, on the third floor. I found three copies, shelved alphabetically under the name of the editor, Elisa Albert (how great that her name begins with "A"); I took all three downstairs with me and bought two (after placing the third strategically on one of the counters featuring new nonfiction paperbacks). I got some slight discount, because I am a member of Barnes & Noble, but I had a coupon for an extra fifteen percent off that I forgot to use.

Next on my list was Borders. There is no Relationships section at Borders, so I wandered around in Psychology and discovered a section labelled Anthologies, but no luck. I used one of the computers Borders has instead of employees, and determined that there were indeed copies of "Freud's Blind Spot" in the store. Finally I tracked them down in Literary Fiction, under Elisa Albert’s name. There were two copies, and I bought one (after finding a nice spot up front on a shelf that featured new nonfiction). I had gone to the trouble of printing out a coupon I received via e-mail, so I got forty percent off.

Third was the Strand. Here I did not know what to hope for: that there would be dozens of reviewers’ copies available (at half price) or none, because all the critics were busy consulting the book as they wrote rave reviews. Anyway, there it was downstairs, not among the reviewers’ copies but in the Literary Nonfiction section, which has recently been moved downstairs: three copies, under Elisa Albert’s name, at half price. I bought all three, feeling relieved that it had been shelved properly.

I suppose I could make a color Xerox of the cover and tape it to the window of my car, parked there behind the Charisma, where it might have a subliminal effect on passersby.


Rick Rofihe said...

Where you can find a review of it is @

MJN/NYC said...

Thank you. This is excellent.