Thursday: 07/11/02

Publishing entrepreneurs Allison Nelson and Jon Phillips, who are launching a glossy new book review magazine called Bookmarks, appear to understand what book collectors have always known: books can be a lot of fun (and sometimes even lucrative), as long as you don't spend too much time reading them.

According to the LA Times, Bookmarks is "designed for readers who like their graphic interfaces glitzy and their information in strobe-like bites." In other words, it's designed for people whose idea of a good book is their cell phone.

This, of course, is a brilliant strategy: the number of readers who do like to read is very small, but the number of readers who don't like to read is almost infinite. And if Bookmarks can capture even, say, 5% of this group, it will become a compelling advertising venue for the nation's publishers.

"What we are trying to do is also a reaction to the increasing marginalization of book coverage in so many magazines and newspapers," explains editor Phillips. That marginalization is happening because newspapers can generate more advertising revenue via editorial devoted to housewares and real estate -- but the end effect, of course, is that book publishers are searching for other places to advertise. And what better place than a book magazine whose readers find reading kind of boring? The great flaw of the book publishing industry is that its best customers are also its worst ones -- each time they buy a book and actually spend time to read it, they potentially go into book-buying hibernation. By cultivating non-reading readers, however, the industry can eliminate such inefficiencies from its sales cycle and thrive. Prediction: or Borders snaps up Bookmarks with two years.

-- G. Beato

Cooking With Bigfoot

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