I recall in high school or college reading an essay called “A Modest Proposal,” penned by Jonathan Swift. It was a sarcastic and satirical attempt – a spoof – to show how the starving class needed help from the wealthy, ruling class. It suggested that the children of poor people in Ireland stop being a burden to their parents and country. His solution was cannibalism, which would solve a number of problems. Well, in that spirit, I have a proposal of how books should be priced and sold.
1. All books should be sold at a price the patron determines after reading the book. If the reader didn’t care for it, the book should be free. The customer doesn’t even have to be inconvenienced by returning a physical book or even have to delete an e-book file. The customer would merely act as if he or she never purchased the book in the first place.
2. Writers should have to pay for people to buy their books, especially if it’s their first book. How else can they build up readership unless they place books in readers’ hands? But a free book is no longer an inducement when so many free books exist. After all, a reader doesn’t dare invest his or her time into something unless they are incentivized. Writers will need to pay people to read their free books, and should the book not be to the reader’s liking, well, doubling the compensation would be the least that could be done.
3. No book should be published until Amazon gives its clearance. We despise government censorship, but everyone loves and trusts Amazon, the all-benevolent corporation that merely seeks to take over the world but will do so in such a friendly and helpful way that how could anyone dare protest whatever it demands?
4. The news media can’t be burdened by reviewing a million new books each year and consumers need reliable sources to give them recommendations. Let’s just allow one website to rate everything, based on things like cover design, book title, and page length. We have to filter based on some kind of criteria and since it’s too subjective to talk about plot, writing style, character development, and setting, it’s best that all book-buying decisions are dictated to us by a computer’s algorithm. It’s better to just trust a Yelp-like site to dictate what we read than to try to think for ourselves.
5. Writers have it too hard right now, trying to get people to buy a book based on the merits of the content. Instead, let’s first create a training and licensing procedure for any aspiring writer. Why let just anyone publish a book? We should demand writers go through required schooling, pay for a license, and pass a test in order to be considered eligible to write a book. Such a procedure will allow for only those deemed qualified to actually pen and publish a book.
6. Let’s set a quota for certain genres and book subject matter. This way we’ll limit consumer choice and make it easier to buy a book they’re sure to love. Do we really need more YA and erotica? Let’s assign writers to cover areas that are not covered enough and allow them to produce books we’re sure to yearn for.
7. Too many books raise too many ideas and issues. In order for the reading public to dismiss the burden of choice, let’s just get rid of books that don’t meet a certain sales threshold by a prescribed time. Just like the cable news stations limit how many candidates, based on pools, can participate in a presidential debate, book retailers must simply determine that after a book ahs been out for as long as two weeks, if sales are not in the top 8%, it must be removed from its store or digital offerings. This allows for Americans to read the same books as one another and not tax people with trying to think for themselves.
Finally, what would be most appropriate and decent would be for citizens to gather up all of their paper books and put them to real use. They should bring them to get recycled so that our nation has enough toilet paper. There’s no reason to have a library in one’s home. Besides, you already read these books, perhaps numerous times. You need to let go of ideas of the past and make way for new books. Classics are overrated. Readers want vampire erotica, YA dystopia thrillers, and Dexter-like thrill-kill books. It’s time to retire books that once seemed relevant but now have little to teach us.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015