Sunday, November 30, 2014

Does Your Book Come With A Video Game?

When I was a teenager in the 1980s I spent a number of years playing video games in the arcade.  I didn’t have a game system at home, though some friends had Atari and Commodore 64.  I loved playing Asteroids, Pac-Man, Galactica, Donkey Kong, RBI Baseball, a football game (I forget the name) with x’s and o’s controlled by a small bowling ball,  and the very first video game of the 70’s – table tennis.  Nintendo came later, as did Xbox and Play Station.  Now you can download games on your tablet.  I thought I was done playing video games, save for the occasional, random game here and there.  But my nine-year-old son has me hooked back in.  What a rush!

They say you never forget how to ride a bicycle and I would add that you never lose your competitive gaming instincts once you’ve logged thousands of hours of playing.  We are wired to play – and keep playing as long as we see progress and as long as we beat other people and crack personal records.

It’s amazing how quickly you can revert to an aspect of your old self, long dormant and forgotten.  I haven’t played video games with any kind of frequency since the rend of my college days some quarter-century ago, but there I am completely focused and lasered in on a single task, looking to get past my high of 1,610,000 points/level twelve of a game up until a few days ago I’d never heard of or even cared to know existed.  Now I can’t get enough of Torpedo Run.

If video games can be combined with books, we’d have a smarter society and a stronger book industry.

Video games seem like a time-waster but they are really an amazing opportunity for players to express the competitor within them.  Most people compete with the world on different levels – for a job, a parking space, a concert ticket.  But with video games everyone and anyone can play.  It doesn’t matter if you are a genius or an athlete or black or white, man or woman.  In the gaming world, we start out on an equal footing and get to live out a battle without risks, but many rewards.

With video games we get to express many skills, such as:

·         Strategy
·         Speed
·         Resourcefulness
·         Discipline
·         Endurance
·         Overcoming Handicaps
·         Treading Into The Unknown

It doesn’t matter what the game is or how cool the graphics are.  They are all the same in that through a screen we have a playing field rich in opportunity to serve as our proving ground.  We have a forum by which to grow, improve, and win.

Video games also teach us about failure, learning from our mistakes, repeating stages until we get them right, and improving our hand-eye coordination.

The only downer is they suck hours of our life away and theoretically divert brainpower and resources from pursuing real-life solutions to real-life problems.  If we took the billions – no tens of billions of hours spent annually by Americans on video games – imagine what else we could accomplish.  Or would those hours just get transferred to other activities that are no more important, like watching TV, surfing the Internet, or some other passive endeavors?

What of the programming power that uses bright minds to develop these games?  Wouldn’t we want to use their talents in a better way, to develop things that will help change society?  Or maybe video games are truly their best possible contribution?

What if a tenth of the time spent on playing video games was used for reading books?  If tens of millions of people play video games daily, each on average of an hour a day that could be hundreds of millions of hours per day.  Take 10% of that and you have maybe 10, 20, or 50 million hours that could go towards reading books.  Wow!  The book industry would skyrocket.

But that isn’t happening.

Is there a way for the book industry to capitalize on the video game craze?

Books about video games – how to play and win, the impact on society, how to become a programmer, etc. – exist.  Do we need more of them?  Not necessarily, but could there be a way to attach books to video games?

How about books that morph into the video games, where reading is part of the game or strategy to win?  Let’s take the game I play.  It’s a game of war vs. battleships.  I shoot, things explode.  I’m shot at, I defend.  Repeat and rinse.  Faster, harder, faster, harder.  Is your heartbeat racing?  What if there were pauses in the game where one reads passages about military boats and then uses that knowledge to help play the game?  You, in essence, are tested on this information based on how well you play (as a result of reading up).

Or maybe we make book reading an entry fee to play free video games.  Before you play Torpedo Run, you need to log 30 pages of a book.  It’s like not being able to watch TV unless you power it by working out on a stationary bike.  You watch if you exercise.  You play video games if you read.

How about video games themed after books?  In order to play a video version of  The Hunger Games, you need to read the trilogy?  Before you play some kind of baseball video game you read about Jackie Robinson or Babe Ruth.  Before you play a game about war, you read a history book on War World II.

I could be way off base here.  Books and video games seem, in some ways, the opposite of each other.  The rush of playing is superior to reading about an adventure – or is it?  Maybe they are more linked than we realize.  Perhaps books and video games don’t just coexist or compete for mindshare and time by rather, they collaborate so we get the best of both.

Well, until you figure this out I’ll be on my mini-iPad trying to improve my score and redefine the limits of my capabilities.  I’ll also be reading books. I can’t choose one over the other.  They each are an important piece of who I am and how I develop as a person.

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

Are Your Book Followers & Fan Connections Fake?

An essay in The New York Times by tech expert Nick Bilton disturbingly exposed how social media connections are not what they seem to be.  There have been stories in the past about people “buying” followers, but I’d never heard to what extent the social media world is a big fake until I read this.

The November 20th piece showed how at least 6% of Kim Kardashian’s 25 million Twitter followers are fake.  That’s 1.5 million!  And 12% of Charlie Sheen’s 11 million Twitter followers are non-existent – another 1.3 million!  It’s possible, though people can buy fake followers, they may have some fake followers without purposely trying to acquire them.

“Each year,” writes Bilton, whom the firm I work for once promoted his book, "Facebook has said it finds 67 million to 137 million fake accounts on its service.  Twitter said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that 8.5 percent, or around 24 million, of its accounts are bots.  And Instagram is littered with millions of bots that copy people’s profiles, share their photos and leave comments on images.”

Have the robots taken over, muddying the real world with fake people and false content?

So what we have online is the marketplace of liars, hucksters, and cheaters.  You can build a brand the natural and legitimate way or you can immediately buy a non-existent following to make yourself appear to be a big authority.  Such a standing can buy you a chance to be paid to practice another ugly element of the digital world – product pitching.

For a fee, you can tweet out something about a product you were paid to promote.  People don’t slow down to read the fine print and see that a tweet was paid for.  They don’t notice search engine searches that come up from paid advertisers.  They don’t notice if a blog post was written because a client paid for it.  Call it deceptive or an uninformed and lazy public, but such practices have taken the Internet over.

George Orwell tried to warn us about Big Brother.  Instead of it being a dictator government ruling over us and monitoring us, we’ve done it to ourselves, allowing online companies to violate our privacy, letting hackers hijack our identities, and voluntarily exposing our lives through social media posts.  He also tried to warn us about history being rewritten or of truth being replaced with a fake dogma.  Well, we’re allowing the Internet to spread lies, rumors, unchecked facts, incomplete data, misinterpreted information, and now fake content from non-existent people.

It’s time to reign in the Wild West side of the Internet.  Yes, regulation.  Enforcement.  Taxation.

      Keep it simple:

·         Free and open access to the Internet.
·         Charge sales tax on all financial transactions, as you would at a brick and mortar location.
·         Enforce libel laws and other rules regarding truth in advertising.
·         Have a site that exposes scams, untruths, unethical practices, illegal activities – make sure it’s complete, up-to-date, and promoted heavily.
·         Jail those who do things like sell fake followers or publish content as if it were real when it’s not.

Right now there’s big money in fake stuff.  Until we stop the incentive to cheat and mislead, we’ll be left with a world we can’t trust.  As more of our lives moves online, can we entrust our world to breath and exist in a medium that’s built on a false foundation?

“A giant pyramid scheme has emerged on social media,” writes Bilton, “where false friends now command real money.  Here’s how the pyramid works: With minimal effort, I downloaded a piece of software called Twitter supremacy.  For $50 for a six-month license, the software (which violates Twitter’s terms of service agreement) lets me fabricate an unlimited number of friends.  Furthermore, I can program those fake accounts to tweet, retweet and follow others automatically, as if they were living, breathing users.  (There are dozens of similar services that do this for Instagram, vine, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Facebook.”

So how are honest authors to compete on a social media playing field that is rigged?  How are consumers to trust what they read or see online if there are fakers out there with bogus connections?

We can’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  The Internet has some real holes but it’s not fully broken.  Still, it is something that should concern us all when the veracity of connections and content needs to be put under a microscope.  We need an honest system that we can trust.

Then again, we’re in a fake culture.  Think about it.  Fake tans.  Fake breasts.  Photoshopped images.  Lies, omissions, and manipulations are in every dialogue, transaction, or debate – from politics and business to dating sites or Twitter connections.  The Internet has the potential to be great – and has advanced society by decades – but it also can be a hotbed for hoaxes, hackers, and haters.  Beware of who you talk to online – they might not even exist.

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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Free Books At These 24 Sites

Welcome to the world of free books.  There are many sites offering free books, including these:

As a reader, you can find free books all over the place. In fact, on Amazon, where books are sold, books are also given away in record numbers.

As an author you should know about these sites and others, in case you determine that a free-book strategy is something you want to pursue.

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

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Innocence of Bill Cosby

If you’re under 35 you likely didn’t experience Bill Cosby the way the two generations before you had.  But even if you never heard of the man, all you need to know is that his work in comedy is legendary.  He had one hit TV show after another, wrote best-selling books, did popular commercials on TV for Jello Pudding Pops, and was seen in a positive, family-friendly, father-figure light.  He broke racial barriers on television and racial perceptions in Middle America. With the wake of recent allegations by a slew of women and teenage girls that date back 50 years, accusing him of rape, a new disturbing picture has begun to form.  

This story is bigger than Cosby, whose attempt to re-launch his career at 77 was hit by cancellations from Netflix, Comedy Central, and NBC.  I can’t prove what’s truth or fact but there appears to be a preponderance of evidence that at the very least, he’s a serial cheater and at worst, a rapist and a liar.  The statute of limitations has run out on these cases so no criminal charges will ever be filed. 

Unless a more recent case pops up, he’ll never see a jail unless on a comedy tour.  Popular opinion is the only judge and jury around.  But as I said, this is bigger than Cosby.  The real stories are these:

1. How does someone commit so many crimes and not get caught and punished?  Why is our judicial system a failure?

2. What’s wrong with men who think they can do this?

3. How do we, as fans of the performance art, separate his body of work from the ugly truth about him as a human being?

You can say things like:

·         Well, all of these celebrities feel entitled to do what they want – and others let them get away with it.

·         Who knows if there’s any truth to any of this?

·         If he didn’t get convicted or even charged with a crime, why are we talking about it?

Excuses.  Bullshit.  Warped thinking.  But we need to love Cosby the comedian of the past, not the man.

Let’s just face it.  The human condition is damaged.  Cosby is not as much the exception to the rule as he is the rule.  Society, systemically, behaves badly.  Those who rise to fame, riches, and power often abuse it.  They are risk-takers who are motivated by greed and power, so once they are in a position to abuse others, they do so.

Sure there are clean athletes, honest politicians, and drug-free actors, but scandal after scandal shows us too many people abuse people and resources once they have something to use.

Michael Jackson, child molester
Woody Allen, incestuous child rapist
OJ, killer
Cosby, rapist

You could start a Hall of Fame (or shame) of all the public figures we’ve come to discover committed serious crimes, abused drugs/alcohol, committed adultery/domestic  violence, were abusive parents, or performed some other unethical deed or amoral act.  The ones we know of are just the tip of the iceberg.  Hugh money, corrupt cover-ups, and extortion or bribery have silenced many other stories from coming to light.

Americans react, in typical fashion, in the following way?

First, shock and disbelief.

Second, denial.

Third, start to believe everything bad is true.

Fourth, villainize the person it previously lionized.

Fifth, begin to allow forgiveness and redemption to take hold.

Sixth, a new generation doesn’t know of the past, good or bad, but judges anew on the
present performances of its celebrities.

Seventh, time passes and we forget the harshness of what was exposed to us while new figures experience new scandals, putting the old ones further back in our thinking

Eighth, we come to the conclusion that our celebrities are flawed and we chose which crimes we can stomach, and which heroic performers outweigh their drawbacks.

I would like to say I boycotted losers like Woody Allen, but the truth is, after a pause, I embraced his movies again and appreciate his later work as much as his earlier stuff. He is someone I’d love to meet but someone I’d also like to see in jail.

Michael Jackson bothered me more, but does this mean I don’t think Thriller wasn’t one of the greatest albums ever?  Of course not.

Cosby will always be Fat Albert to me.  I grew up on that show.  Overall, he wasn’t a favorite comedian.  He’s too slow and drawn out when telling a joke.  He was more of a storyteller than a witty one-line guy.  I didn’t watch The Cosby Show but I recognize its success.  None of that will change. His legacy of work speaks for itself.  But he should be disgraced for what he’s done.  He’s a lesson – upon many others – that we never know what lurks behind the stars we glorify.  We can love the performance, but hate the performer.

It puts us in a tough position.  We don’t have a switch in our brain that can erase all the good Cosby had at one time represented, nor can we ignore or water down the criminal picture that has now crystalized.  We need to reconcile the two.  We need to be allowed to laugh at Cosby on TV and to be able to yell at or cry over citizen Cosby.  Should he never perform again?  

He’s doing standup shows across the nation right now.  I don’t see how you could attend a show and applaud the 2014 Cosby version, no matter how much you want to compartmentalize the legend and the letch.  If I met him today I’d want to punch him in the face.  He drugged and raped or took advantage of women, some just 16-year-old girls.  It’s not a joke.

But as time passes, will I boycott watching a rerun of Fat Albert?  Of course not.

This isn’t Russia, where they rename streets based on the political mood of the moment.  I can’t simply erase the good side of Cosby, no matter how monstrous he appears to have been.  But I will mourn his passing – and I will once again remind myself that today’s star is tomorrow’s scandal.

It’s human nature, and something I’ve come to accept.

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

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Kardashian Is Making A Big Ass Out Of Us!

Glorifying The Photo-Shopping of America

Let me begin by saying I am not a fan of Kim Kardashian, mainly because I don't believe she has any real talent. She got famous for all of the wrong reasons: making a sex tape, doing a stupid reality show, and being the daughter of a lawyer who represented OJ-the-killer. All she does is constantly show off her unnatural body -- one part surgery, one part genes, one-part photo-shop. But I am even less of a fan of all the media that thrusts her over-sized ass into our faces, serving her up as if she should be worshipped simply for being her. When you peel away the plastic layers, I am not sure what you really get when you look at her.

Let me be clear: I am not against public nudity, nor am I against women being appreciated for their natural looks. I also believe there are many standards of beauty, and we can be inclusive of all body types.. But I find fault in praising her for her willingness to flaunt this bigger-than-life but it. She is not a heroine. She accomplished nothing. She promotes a fake image as the ideal. She is only good at making the most of nothing.

No one can have the butt she has, not even her. Perverse photographers, greedy plastic surgeons, crafty photoshoppers and touch-up artists have conspired to create Kardashian and give us a technofied Frankenbutt. Maybe she's come along in popularity at the right time for an America that is over-sized. While everyone around her plumps up, she is able to channel her heft into one area and now gets treated like royalty for carrying around a booty that is in two zip codes.

We all know that sex sells. Advertisements on billboards, in magazines, online, in newspapers, and on television for years and years depicted pretty faces, hot bodies, and beautiful people as a way to market things. Attractive people get our attention, plain and simple. we only associate positive things with good-looking people, anticipating and imagining what it would be like to be seduced by them. But I am tired of the media selling itself by showcasing the sub-culture of booty loot. Yes, I am talking about the big-assed Kim Kardashian, famous for having a buttocks the size of Texas.

Think about it. Her butt is either natural, a freak of nature that she bares no responsibility for creating. Or, it is surgically carved like her chest and face, and thus, makes her altered, like a cybourg. So either she is a genetic mutation or a paid-for and packaged doll, and in any case, why do we adore her and treat her like some war hero?

Worse, all we do is catch her baring her assets and it constantly makes news. The New York Post and Daily News recently ran photos from Paper magazine, showing her backside completely exposed. Although I generally don't mind public nudity or images of sexy individuals, there is something offensive about her and the ass that she wears like an accessory.

Whereas authors seek to get attention with their words and creative ideas, actors, models, and reality TV stars just use their bodies, resorting to flashing some T & A and ass whenever it suits them. But is there no room for taste  in human art? I feel like the media is highlighting a mentally ill woman who needs to be showered with praise and adoration simply because her crack is a little bigger than everyone elses. Who gives a crap? Pun intended.

But let's not feel sorry for her. Her ample cheeks are needed to squeeze a bank account that equals the gargantuan ego of hers. She is paid big bucks to shake her money-maker.

I guess what bugs me is that she gets so much attention for something she didn't earn. It also bugs me that people think she defines beauty. Plus, she is one dimensional. Without her bottom, would you even look at her face?

But I can't be a hypocrite. I adore the human body and attractive women. There is an artistry attached to the human form that is unparallel to anything else. I would love for nothing more than to see a more open attitude to public nudity and sex. Prostitution should be legalized, regulated, and taxed, and those who work in the industry should be trained about disease, abuse, pregnancy, and safety.  But let's not use sex and beauty to manipulate society. We can't just elect pretty people or buy stuff just beecause of one's cleavage. And the media can't just continually splash images of worthless talents like Kim Kard-ass-ion.

Perhaps I am too harsh on a woman who's derriere is glorified by millions of fans. Some like a big plastic butt. Who ma I to say which body part on which person should be featured in the media and emulated by others? There is a side of me that acknowledges everyone has different tastes and they should be free to pursue them. I just wish society did not worship a woman whose most admirable trait can only be seen once she walks by you.

I also must acknowledge that books use sexual imagery all the time. How many novels feature sexual references and descriptions of beautiful people? How many book covers use a sexually suggerstive image to sell books? How often does an author emphasize sex, beauty, and affairs when describing a book on the back cover and in press releases? Let's face it, we are a society driven by sexual fantasy, whether in our social media, books, movies, music, art, or daily newspaper.

If Kim Kardashian was to publish a book, what would be in it? You know it would be a coffee table book with life-size centerfold pullouts of her curvy butt stump. If a photo is worth a thousand words, millions of words will pour out of the pages.

I would love for her to write a confessional tome regarding what goes through her mind every time she uses her bottom like a weapon to snag money. What does she think when everyone stares at her or points to her down there? How does she feel about being objectified?

Or, maybe her husband, musician Kanye West, should write about what it is like to be lost in her mountainous butt cavity. Does she even let him touch her golden calf, fearful he will bend it out of shape?

Ok,I digress. Here is my main point: Can society do better than to worship an ass? If we so easily can fall for a factory-produced body part, what is next? When will society turn its attention to praising big brains, big hearts, and big charities -- rather than oversized asses and egomaniacal half-wits?

It is time to boycott her moon butt. It is also time to stop rewarding a fart-producing machine!

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Day, Books!

We have a lot to be thankful for as we celebrate Thanksgiving Day 2014.  You might ask: How does he know what I should be thankful for?  Because I know that if you are reading this you share a common love of books and I am thankful that books, are in my life and still stand for something in an oversaturated world of competing content from all over the globe.  May 2015 bring even better books into our lives!

Am I thankful for Twitter, Facebook or Apple?  They serve a purpose in life but if they disappeared tomorrow, that’s fine by me.  But books?  They are my lifeblood.  How can we spread the word about the power of books?

·         Start by gifting them this holiday season.

·         Read more books

·         Serve as a literacy tutor to young kids or ESL adults

·         Blog about books and use social media to advance them

·         Keep writing quality books that fill our needs or desires

·         Keep buying books – don’t settle for free ebooks

·         Form a book group or join one

·         Attend author signing and speaking events

·         Donate more books to schools, libraries, and chairties.

·         Display your books everywhere, anywhere

·         Carry a book with you to read whenever on a line, taking mass transportation, waiting for someone, on a plane, or at the pool.

·         Discuss books with others.  Don’t ask your friends if they saw the latest movie. Ask what they’re reading. 

·         Put together a list your favorite books and share with others.

·         Write to your favorite authors and let them know you support them.

·         Keep a running tab of the books you read and set a goal on how many books you want to read each month or pages per day.

·         Expose yourself to different genres that you’d never normally think to read

·         Read to your kids and then discuss what was read.  Learning becomes fun this way.

·         Buy an audiobook this year.  They’re great for the car, long walks, the beach, and really everywhere. 

·         Expose yourself to the writings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.  They will change the way you think

·         Re-read all Curious George and Dr. Seuss books – whether you’re  4, 20, 50 or 90!

·         Visit your local library or a museum dedicated to a famous writer or book.

·         Buy a book about Thanksgiving Day and deliver it to the hostess of your party

·         Reproduce your favorite book covers, frame them – an hang them on your walls

Lastly, celebrate  Thanksgiving not just by being with family or eating warm foods.  Curl up and read a book – and my blog!

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Can You Be A Social Media Influencer?

Becoming a social media influencer sounds like something cool.  Imagine that people care about what you say or think or do.  Online, you can become a bit of a celebrity.  But how do you do that?

In the digital world there are 1.25 billion Facebook users and 500 million Twitter users.  But many just have a few hundred followers, primarily family-friend-work connections.  However, some people have hundreds of thousands and millions of faithful followers.  They have more people paying attention to them than most media outlets.

Think about it.  If you get something shown on CNN, depending on the day of the week and the hour, there could be 120,000 people watching.  Or you can get something into the New York Post and its circulation of around 650,000.  But if you get on a blog or become the subject of a tweet from someone with millions of follower, which do you think has the potential to yield more book sales?

Ok, so now you are excited about influencing the influencers and becoming one yourself.  Here’s how to get on their radar:

1.      Find out who the influencers are.  Compile a list of those who have big click and connection numbers as bloggers, tweeters, and Facebookers.  Locate them and follow them or connect with them.

2.      Engage them.  Comment on posts.  Give a shout out to them in your blog or social media.  Retweet their content.  Directly contact them to say you enjoyed their latest posting.

3.      Build yourself up as an authority or expert so that the influencers come to see you as a relevant player in their space – but as a friendly complement to them, not a competitor.  Also do tings beyond social media to be seen as important and relevant.

4.      Be seen, based on your content, as an opinionated but savvy expert who offers original ideas.  No one needs a copycat or a clone.  We all want to know interesting people.

Lastly, act as if you are an influencer.  Think, act, and speak as if you already have a huge following.  Be the person you strive to become and maybe, just maybe, others will start to see you that way.

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dear Barnes & Noble

A Christmas Wish List To B&N

I want to believe in you, that you will always be here for me in my time of need, that your doors will always be open to nurture the building minds of society’s readers, that every community will have you, that you will be a partner we can love and count on.  Love is not easy, because it’s a matter of the heart, and our hearts can’t pump our lifeblood without books and bookstores leading the way.  Right now, it seems like your heart needs a pacemaker.

It does no good to look back at the many, many mistakes you’ve made that have led up to where you are today, but in order to move forward in our relationship, I do need you to take ownership for your errant ways and to recommit every fiber in your corporate body to building up your connection to the book publishing industry.

You never properly challenged Amazon. When your biggest competitor died, you responded not by buying up some Borders locations but by shutting some of yours down.  The Nook never took hold like the Kindle.  You were once the biggest kid on the playground but somehow you got left back a grade.

So what can you do to once again compete in today’s book marketplace?  Plenty, but you need to do as I say and stop wasting precious time.

First, open more stores – smaller ones – to service underserved areas.  There are hundreds of towns lacking bookstores.  The Bronx, with nearly two million people, won’t have a single bookstore when you close yours up shortly.  You need to have a presence everywhere – now – or you’ll never be able to get back in once you’ve been long gone.

Second, stop closing stores.  The only time a store should close is if the lease is being raised exorbitantly.  In such cases, relocate nearby, but don’t just leave an entire area.

Third, use your store locations to your advantage.  Establish yourself as the leader, as the epicenter of intellectual gatherings, as the cultural hub or safe haven that you should be.  Longer hours – not shorter – should be the norm.  You can have trained staff talking people into buying books.  Be proactive, not reactive.

Fourth, hold more events.  People value touching people, not screens.  All the skyping, texting, tweeting, and downloading can’t replace human contact.  Be the oasis for people to gather and feel alive to experience a sense of shared community.  Hold events around the clock, with live programming going on as if you were a TV station.  Authors want to do book signings and they can bring in crowds.  It doesn’t only have to be authors making presentations.  Publishing personnel can also come and discuss the editing, publishing, and marketing of books.  Be a forum for the exchange of ideas and nourish the ecosystem of thought.

Five, distinguish yourselves. Why are you better/different than other retailers?  Why should one buy from B&N vs. Amazon, Costco, or others?  The truth is, B&N should sell not just prices, customer service, selection, etc. but the fact that it brings not just books to people but people who love books together.  Make it something cool, something special to be a B&N Member.

Six, partner with other organizations, businesses, and even government agencies to do cross promotions.  Get them to hand out B&N cards or showcase you on their sites – and you reciprocate with other compensation, whether it be discounts, onsite promotions, or allowing groups to gather at your stores.

Seven, promote the self-published community.  They are the largest segment of publishing – and the fastest growing.  Partner with authors and see them as sales people to grow your bottom-line.

Eight, have a street-side barker bring crowds into your stores.  Act like it’s a store’s grand opening and hustle to bring in people.  Behave like a start-up and be hungry and aggressive.  You need to win over customers so that they’ll return for more.

Nine, have a special promotion: Turn your kindle in and get store credits and discounts on books.  Make it like a program the local police use to encourage people to sell back their guns.

Ten, win over the kids.  They are the future and when you create family friendly events at your store, you bring in a parent who may shop for themselves and their kids.  If kids grow up not thinking a bookstore is special, they’ll be lost forever.  Just as we teach ethics, civics and religion early on, we must indoctrinate our youth to love books and bookstores.

Please Barnes & Noble, it’s late but the sun has not yet set on you.  Pull out all of the stops to save not only yourself, but an industry, and our society.  Be creative, assertive, and opportunistic.  Take a risk and innovate.  You used to be a king and now you are reduced to just a seat in parliament.  Rise again and lead us.

I forgive you for your past incompetence, arrogance, and lack of vision, but you must begin, right now, to present yourself as the book industry’s greatest asset.  You can be a true force for good.  Step up to fulfill the role you were destined for.  You are the only thing standing between the Amazonation of America.

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

How Does The Media Know Your Book Is Great?

Let’s say your book is great, I mean really excellent and head and shoulders above your genre competitors.  You give it to 50 people to read and 49 love it.  Someone will always disagree.  So how do you convince the media your book is fantastic?

Saying it’s great won’t convince anyone it is so.  Although to not say it’s great raises an eyebrow of suspicion.

You need to show its greatness, but how?

You may send them 30 testimonials from readers.  Big deal.  Maybe you had to approach 300 readers to get one in ten to say they liked it.  What of the other 90%?  No one ever sends a bad testimonial or negative review to the media, so it’s hard to weigh or put into perspective the positive reviews, of which could be gamed by going to friends, family, colleagues to pen such platitudes.  Again, 30 endorsements prove nothing, but if you don’t have them, it’s a red flag.

How about looking at who gives the testimonials as being proof of the book’s importance?  If you have well-known people and important organizations endorsing your book, isn’t that better than Uncle Mike gushing words of praise?  Again, nice to have but not an indicator of anything.  There are a zillion experts, celebrities, major groups, and famous people who`, by connection or fee, will write anything in one’s favor.

How about what is said in these testimonials?  Could the use of language, manipulated to its limits, bend a media outlet into thinking such a book must be too good to be ignored?  Please, every testimonial is written with such artistry that it’s hard to distinguish substance from fluff.  The media tunes out this stuff – unless you don’t provide it.  Then they have an excuse to ignore you.

Maybe a splashy design of well-crafted press kit materials on quality paper in colorful packaging will make the media see there is something special attached to your book?  Unfortunately, the more you try to dress something up, the more critical and suspicious the media becomes.  Are you trying to hide something behind all of the razzle-dazzle?

How about sending a gift with the book?  Let’s say your book is about wine.  Why not send a bottle of wine with your book?  Or if your book’s about dogs, why not send dog product samples with it?  No matter how relevant or nice the swag is, it still doesn’t speak to the book’s greatness, the author’s credentials, or the timing, need or demand for such a book.  They’ll pocket the gift and toss the book.

How about judging your book by its catchy title and beautiful cover?  That gets people’s attention, but by themselves, doesn’t signify greatness.

Perhaps having a huge publisher behind the book will be the stamp of approval needed for the media to recognize its greatness.  Not likely.  Hundreds of thousands of books are published by major publishers each year and even if you give a book a little more credence for being published by someone over a self-published one, how do you know which book amongst all of the traditionally published ones are truly great?

Could you judge a book by the name of the person who wrote its foreword or introduction?  Nope, like testimonials – and assholes – everyone has one.  You can pay anything to get someone to agree to put their name on a foreword. 

What if the book’s gotten some great reviews from well-respected media outlets?  That may help get the media to at least look at your book, but not stamp it as great just because others said so.

How about if it’s a bestseller?  The media knows many things that sell can be manipulated and that what’s popular is not a reflection of greatness but of subjective tastes and desires of an untrained public.

What if a publicist whispers in the ear of a media personality that this book is the greatest ever?  The jaded media pro knows publicists are paid to say bullshit and that publicists aren’t even in a position to judge such things.  Further, few publicists can go out on a limb for few books because it puts their credibility at stake.  If they say a book is great – and it’s not – the media won’t trust the publicist.  If a publicist says one book is great and is silent on the other ten he or she sent that journalist, what is the journalist to think of those books?

Okay, so by now you are really wondering how to convince the media that your book is truly the real deal, a great experience that awaits them if only they’d open themselves up to discovering it?

First, your book has to be great in order to be considered great.  No exceptions.

Second, you need as many of the above-stated things to go in your favor as possible, even if each one can be dismissed by the media.

Third, you need them to be told by those they trust and respect that the book is great.  Find Matt Lauer’s wife and have her say the book is great.  Send a copy to the priest of a book reviewer and have him tell the reviewer it’s great.  You know Oprah’s gardener or Jon Stewart’s neighbor of the nanny for Bill O’Reilly’s grandkids?  Make sure they have and love the book.  They’ll sell it to the media better than anyone.

You need to lobby on behalf of your book as if you discovered a cure for cancer or were thwarting a terrorist attack.  Go the extra mile to impress upon the media that you have this great book that needs to be discovered and shared.  When you speak with conviction and determination – and not desperation or fear – you’ll come across as forceful and believable.

Lastly, consider what could happen if enough people read and enjoy your book.  Act as if – as if millions of people’s lives were transformed by your book, as if real-world changes were underwent as a result, as if people suddenly were better off for having experienced it.  What would happen in a world that’s already embraced your book?  Take that feeling or those anticipated results and convert others into believing what you already believe and know could be true if only they’d give it a chance.

Be animated, persistent, colorful, and lively.  Be there to demonstrate all of the possible benefits that could come from reading your book.  Challenge them.  Needle them.  Say and do what’s needed to shake things up.  Your book could be great and everyone needs to know it!

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Can We Really Trust Our Books?

Not too long ago when the vast majority of books were published by what was the Big Six, and self-published books were delegated to a handful of vanity printing presses, people gave more credence to what was published.  One didn’t assume everything they read was true, but people tended to not question the books out there.  They assumed if a book got published it passed a litmus test.  They further assumed a published book was fact-checked and edited.  Lastly, the American public – lacking the Internet of today – was not in a position to independently check on a book’s veracity.

Now we have more books being published by individuals than publishers.  We also have books being written by more authors than ever before.  One might say the market has a lot of choice and diverse voices. Others will say we have diluted books, written and edited by unqualified individuals.

Whether in the old days of gatekeeper publishing or in today’s bold world of click-it publishing, I’m not so sure we have a better representation of the truth in either scenario.  Do our books represent, more comprehensively – and more accurately – what our world is all about, or do they obstruct our understanding of it?

Books seem to offer a sense of authority, the product of researching, writing, contemplating, and editing, delivered in the context of a world filled with information and ideas.  Books are not a spur of the moment blog post or a newspaper story that gets filed under the limitations of deadlines and space.  But, books can tell their stories as they see fit, whether in 120 pages or 1,200.

Books are only as good as the authors who write them and the editors that edit them.  But its up to the readers to discern if a book is accurate, complete, unbiased, and helpful.  Books, at face value, can no longer be seen as the sole recorders of our world.  Books may seem complete and permanent, but they are really just an attempt to capture moments, people, and ideas.  They can flood us with data – opinions, facts, analysis – as well as fantasies, visions, and ideas.  I’d like to believe that books are like bricks of a building, each an important part in the collective foundation of our society’s knowledge.  But I also know we need to be careful in how books are treated and too easily accepted as truth or as a full and honest examination of a subject.

I do know that as we seek to record and capture more information – with books, blogs, and social media -- the less complete our understanding of things becomes.  How could this be, a world of more information leading to a less than smart understanding of the world?

First, no one has time to consume all of what’s out there.
Second, no one has a way to verify each claim put forward.
Third, because we are overwhelmed by info – accurate or otherwise – we are challenged to prioritize which source to listen to over another.

We need a librarian-type force to help us navigate through the piles of information available to us.  We want unlimited access to as many sources and resources as possible, but this must be tempered with the help of trained editors, truth evaluators, and people who can scale down a book into a paragraph and a life’s work into a few sentences.  To catalog and verify all that is out there is what’s needed, otherwise Google is tasked with telling us what to read or view – and doing so without double-checking any facts or figures.

This can’t be left to the government, though funding will be needed for such a project.  It can’t be in the hands of a few self-serving corporations.  It can’t be left to just a handful of unpaid do-gooders at some non-profits.  It can’t be like Wikipedia, where info is crowd-sourced but really not validated.

Until we come up with a comprehensive, fair, and productive system to summarize, verify, and rate the books that are produced, our world may grow dumber even as it reads more books than ever before.

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