The local newspaper has become so desperate for readers that every Sunday they drop off a free miniature edition of the paper that's basically all advertisements. Goodness knows why I even bother to read it, but the Numbrix puzzle in Parade Magazine is fun to do.
Anyway, while looking at the Target ad from last week, I noticed they were selling autographed copies of a novel by Emily Giffin called Where We Belong.
I can't imagine how many thousands of copies that is. Even if only one autographed copy of the book arrived at each Target (and that's unlikely as why would they advertise in the weekly ad a product they only ordered one of?), there are still almost 2,000 Target stores.
Emily Giffin had to sign a lot of books!
This promotion appears to be an attempt to get Giffin's book on the bestseller list, where even more copies will be sold as people like to read what other people are reading so they can talk about it and relate to one another. The promotion also appears to be yet another example of how with epublishing the materiality of traditional print publishing, something often not noticed before, is highlighted. After all, Giffin can't sign your ebook, can she?
It's interesting that we like autographed things in the first place. I mean what do I care if an author actually touched my copy of a book? But I do, and so do lots of others. Perhaps it's a bit of celebrity icon worship in place of the religious relics of past ages. Why else would people spend thousands of dollars on Marilyn Monroe's gloves? Or, perhaps psychologically, we want to feel closer to people we admire and possessing something, even a scribble, that once belonged to one of them, makes us feel that we are connected.
It's all nonsense ultimately. An autograph is just a stream of ink on some paper.
Fortunately, I realize that and don't get too wrapped up with autographed items. I can't tell you how many books I had Harvey Pekar sign over the years at various readings he did, and ironically I sold all those autographed books off, so that today the only Harvey Pekar books I have were the ones I really liked and none of those were the signed ones.
I suppose that shows it's the work that matters in the end.
But it's a tough book market out there and if Giffin gets a "hand" up on it with her mass market autographs, then bully for her.
I just hope the poor thing didn't develop carpal tunnel syndrome!
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