A $500,000 marketing campaign doesn’t buy what it used to

October 16th, 2006 → 10:25 am @ // No Comments

Back in September, Yale professor Jeb Rubenfeld published his first book, The Interpretation of Murder. It was the most hyped and most publicized first novel in a long time; Henry Holt had a mind-boggling first printing of 185,000 to go along with a 15-city book tour and an almost unprecendented $500,000 marketing campaign.

Rubenfeld’s book has been, to put it gently, a huge, spectacular, awe-inspiring flameout. It never hit the best seller list, and to date, BookScan reports that it’s sold approximately 15,000 copies; BookScan represents somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of book sales, which would put Interpretation somewhere between 21,500 and 25,000 sales. To put that in perspective, if Holt had simply spent its $500,000 on buying the book on Amazon, it could have bought around 28,000 copies and given them out as holiday presents.

EDIT: I haven’t seen it, but apparently there’s a WSJ story in today’s paper about this very subject. And here I thought I was all ahead of the curve.

Post Categories: Red Sox & Yankees

2 Comments → “A $500,000 marketing campaign doesn’t buy what it used to”

  1. deversm

    17 years ago

    185,000. Wow. That’s some chutzpah!

    Question: What happens to a book when even the remainder warehouse is completely over-stocked? Is there such a thing as a remainder-remainder?


  2. lperdue

    17 years ago

    “remainder-remainder” = shredder

    There’s promotion and then there’s PROMOTION …

    I just got back yesterday from a promo trip to Europe. Poland (no jokes please) was an amazing experience. My publisher there is a small one (Philip Wilson), but not only did the publisher’s promo people do the best job I have ever experienced, but also the owners, editors and their friends and spouses all went to bat for me personally, calling every friend and acquaintance they had at television, radio and print outlets, at book stores (The largest being Empik) and government.

    It was apparent to me that everyone _believed_ in my books … not just believed in a marketing sense, but at a very gut level, in their hearts.

    I’m truly amazed and honored. No publisher can do that for every book, but when you experience something like this it is a lifetime memory. This is probably why my books are selling far better in Europe and other continents than here … that and the fact that the European press don’t lick Random House’s boots when it comes to the DVCode thingy.


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