Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Book Promoter’s Extinction Is Coming

A new client for Media Connect, the book publicity firm where I serve as their chief marketing officer, wrote a book called The Brooklyn Iceman. It’ll be released by CreateSpace in September.

It’s a historical novel about an Italian immigrant who settles in Brooklyn a century ago and moves from being an iceman to an entrepreneur in bed with the Mafia. But the reason I’m writing about the book is because the main character—a guy who delivered ice in the summer and coal in the winter—made a lasting impression on me. Such a job no longer exists. It made me realize that eventually a book promoter or marketer will no longer exist. I see the fate of my profession and understand that just as it didn’t exist for most of human history; it’ll disappear in a matter of time.

History is littered with professions that have come and gone. To even talk about some of them would strain one’s understanding of what the job entailed. Times change. Things done by hand get turned over to machines and robots. Technology is transforming, if not eliminating, jobs daily.

Economics changes things. Something could happen in the book industry to change the scale of reward. It may eventually not be profitable for people to hire a publicist or for publishers to promote their books.

Amazon or Google may develop software or a system that feeds information to the marketplace and makes a book promoter obsolete.

Perhaps books will change in size, format, and price to the point books won’t exist anymore or the news media won’t see to it to interview authors or review books.

The book promoter depends on a number of things to exist:

1.      That books exist and that someone has a reason to promote a book

2.      That alternative ways to sell a book, such as advertising, doesn’t become better at it than a book promoter

3.      That there is a sizable and influential news media available to access to promote books

4.      That consumers read enough books at a high enough cost that there’s room for the book promoter industry to exist

5.      That qualified people want to work as book promoters, instead of pursuing any other career or business opportunity

One or more of these things is bound to evolve to the point that the book promoter goes the way of the iceman.
Imagine that one made a living hauling heavy blocks of ice by horse and wagon, delivering it to homes and walking up apartment building stairs. In the winter they’d deliver coal. Eventually, the job got replaced by refrigeration and new forms of energy.

Being a book promoter may seem different, but the shelf life for the book promotions industry will likely conclude this century, if not the next.

Think about it. The Internet is exploding with content, much of it free. Time and money will influence things. People only have so much time and so much money to dedicate to books.

Science could change things. As humans become more robotic, books will become more of a downloadable program that gets imbedded in our body. Google Glass is just the beginning. Each day we lose a little humanity when we tether ourselves to smart phones. Eventually, we’ll be wired—literally—in to the Internet. 

Maybe we’ll take medications that alter our brain chemistry. Perhaps we’ll learn to be bionic. Science, business and the military—coupled with human curiosity, laziness, and greed will likely yield a form of human so very different form how we see ourselves today.

The iceman has melted away and lives only in books like The Brooklyn Iceman. Soon, anyone who was an iceman or even saw an iceman at work, will be dead, and with them, a piece of humanity’s evolution will have moved on. The book promoter, perhaps not in my lifetime, but eventually, will be gone and forgotten.

I see my fate and gladly accept it. I just hope something better—or rather, someone better—comes in the book promoter’s place.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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