Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Marketing Ploy Fail


So, it was brought to my attention on twitter that a book had been written based on the upcoming movie, Red Riding Hood. This was not totally strange to me, even though it's usually a movie based on a book, but I've seen this before with movies and television series moving into books. What was odd to me was that, for starters, the book was apparently published in January of this year while the movie won't be out until March. This didn't totally make sense to me considering that the movie would be spoiled for a lot of people and if they liked the book they may go see the movie, but if they didn't like the book, the movie may be out ticket sales. Also, that's a few months time for the hype of the book to die down and people may lose interest in the movie. I'm not a marketing genius by any means, but I would think it would make sense to release the book at the same time or after the movie releases.

Apparently the publishers thought of this however and the answer they arrived at boggled my mind just a bit. It seems that when you get to the end of the book, there is no last chapter. What you get instead is instructions to go to a website to read the last chapter. Now, if you visit that website now you will be informed that you will have to wait to read the last chapter until after the movie has been released. Now see? No spoiled ending and the publisher keeps you on the hook and your interest piqued. After all, you do want to know how the story ends, don't you? The real kicker here is that there is no warning on the cover of the book or in the book description telling the book buying public that you will be paying full price (at least $9) for a book with no tangible ending. Now, I could be overreacting here, but I feel like that's a major fuck you to the intelligence of the book buying public. Do they honestly think we would find it cute to turn to the what should be the first page of the last thrilling chapter only to get a message that basically says "Ha ha! Bet you thought there'd be an ending here. Sucka!"?
Are we supposed to give them points for creativity? Novelty? Big, huge brass balls?

ETA: So I just went on the website redridinghoodbook.com and was greeted by a huge and cheerful countdown widget announcing on 23 days left til you can have the satisfaction of knowing how the book you paid for in monopoly real money is going to end! Ooh, the suspense, y'all!

Ok, I put it to you, the book consumers of the world, how would you feel having picked up what you assumed to be a finished copy and then found out there was, not even a lack of a happy ending, but simply a lack of any ending at all? I mean sure, there'll be an ending on the website, but whenever you want to re-read the book are you supposed to go back to the website to re-read the last chapter? How long will the site be up? Do they expect you to pass down an incomplete book to your kids (if it's even good enough, I can't say)? Is this a sign of things to come in the publishing industry? What are your thoughts?

24 comments:

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

That's a total fail in my mind. I'd be so pissed if I got to the end of the book and it told me to go to a website. Why not just wait till the actual movie comes out to release the book?

The Queen B said...

@A Buckeye Girl Reads- I know! I actually went to the bookstore this morning and hunted down a copy just to see for myself and sure enough, it sends you to the site.
I don't understand whey they didn't wait to release it, either. Catherine Hardwicke is releasing a book about the movie and the story and they haven't released that one yet. Makes no sense to me.

Has said...

That is a complete and utter fail. What happens when someone buys the book way after the movie has come out and they forgot to renew to pay for hosting the site? Its not clever and especially at that price- but more importantly when a chapter is missing especially the last one - I would be totally pissed off because I paid for a book that is complete and not almost finished. Its okay if its an extra epilogue but the final chapter :P

The Queen B said...

@Has Yeah, I don't get it. If they do a print run later with the chapter included, then it completely screws over the people that already bought the book when it first came out. I was wondering the same about how long the site would be maintained. That was pretty ballsy, imo.

debbie said...

If I found that at the end of a book, right back to the bookstore it would go. I would then tell all the store employees(so they could warn people), but it in my reviews of the book, and anyone else willing to listen to me. I would not be happy.

The Queen B said...

@debbie- Yeah, a lot of reviews on Amazon are saying they're taking the book back and asking others to return their copies, too. I would do the same. That is just so frustrating.

Sylvia said...

WTF? How did this idea get past the conception stage? The only explanation I've got is that the movie people were thinking in terms of TV shows, when we do wait a week to find out what happens next, and were somehow too stupid to realize that books != television.

I would even argue that this "book" is a lie, because it's being marketed as a novel when it is blatantly only 90% of a novel. I'd be pissed too.

The Queen B said...

@Sylvia Yeah, you would think that they would have to at least put a disclaimer on the cover or something.

WickedLilPixie said...

In one way I think it's awesome but then the lack of WARNING you're screwed for the next couple of weeks is what pisses me off.

Either way, brilliant marketing even if I'd be soo pissed.

A Simple Love of Reading said...

I just started this book, I'm having trouble getting into it. Now I think because of this (thank you for the heads up so I don't waste my time), it's going to be a DNF for me.

The Queen B said...

@WLP-- I can see how it's novel and creative, but like you pointed out, there's no warning and you pay full price. What happens if and when the website goes down? I don't know, I think they should have thought it out better.

Eva / TXBookjunkie said...

No! I was thinking of getting this book too. Total fail! I totally agree with your thoughts - those were the same questions I had too! I'd return the book.

The Queen B said...

@A Simple Love of Reading-- If you're not going to finish it, I'd take it back and ask for a refund if I were you. But that's just me :P

@Eva-- Yeah, I understand if they were trying to be more interactive or something, but I think the execution left a lot to be desired.

Vamchoir said...

Initially I had same reaction, "that sucks," but then I felt like SOMEONE should play the devil's advocate. So I started working my brain really hard (trying to see the marketer's point of view).

Problem is, I seriously cannot get my head that far up inside my badonkadonk. They're not caring one iota about the reader/viewer's experience. This scheme is purely greed-driven. Obviously they expect revenue for both the book and the movie and they're hoping to nail the same customer twice.

Alyssa said...

Wow this is so shocking to me!! I was under the impression that the book was , well yknow, an actual finished book! Even when you go on the website it says come back for the "bonus"chapter - so apparently the ending is just a bonus, even though I thought it was kind of REQUIREMENT for a story.

What a shame, the cover is so beautiful, but I definitely don't want a book that's not a full book sitting on my shelf.

BLHmistress said...

Thank you so much for the heads up because I won't be buying this book and thats a shame because I loved the premise and was going to anyway see the movie but now I won't do either.

The Queen B said...

@Vamchoir-- I don't mean to flame them, but it's hard for me to be happy when, like you said, it's all about greed, imho.

@Alyssa-- To be fair, I haven't read the book (I didn't feel like buying it based on the lack of ending and reviews) so I don't know a hundred percent what's missing. However, based on customer complaints on Amazon and B&N.com, it is in fact the ending. So, I'm not sure why they're calling it the "bonus" chapter since the "ending" in the book leaves you hanging. Probably hoping people wouldn't be that pissed with them that way.

@BLHmistress-- I'm still going to see the movie. I don't want to short change the actors just because the publisher (and I'm assuming the studio) are being greedy. However, I did debate buying the book and I just don't think I will. Whether it's a "bonus" chapter or the actual ending, it still feels too much like they're giving me the finger for me to stomach giving them even more money. But that's my opinion.

Soo said...

I don't know why this surprises anyone. Increasingly of late books that have heinous cliff hangers and intentional "buy the next book to find out what happens" carrots are being salivated over by fangirl squeeing. People are buying these books in advance, starting websites over them, creating discussion groups to speculate on the answers to questions. It doesn't matter if the author promises "stick with me for five books and all will be revealed" at the beginning, only to say "you get answers a,b, and c but we've decided to make a spin off with hero x and y and heroine z - oh, and you'll never ever know what hero B and his buds are. That reveal is not in the cards." And still they come in droves for that crap. They eat it up. You'd think they were getting it as a bit of slap and tickle in the bedroom.

There is no reason this should be any different. Until the people who enjoy being teased stop putting their money into it, that's what we're going to get. Marketers looking for ways to prolong that tantalization.

I've dropped 3 authors this year because their new books end with cliff hangers. When the series are finished if I still remember them maybe I'll pick up used copies some where so I can read them back to back. Until then, I'll leave the mutual masturbation to those that don't mind paying to be diddled.

Sylvia said...

@Soo A proper series will have an arc covering the entire series and an individual arc for each book, so that the reader will have both a sense of completion and a sense of anticipation at the end of each book. You can't give too much completion in book 1 if you want them to pick up book 2.

But it does have to be balanced and some authors do take it way, way overboard with the cliffhangers and sequel baits, of course.

Rebecca :) said...

OMG. I would be furious if a book I bought did not have any ending. That is going to backfire big time I predict.

And thanks for the warning!

Soo said...

@Sylvia - Yes, I understand long and short story arcs and balancing a sense of completion with a sense of suspense for the story. That's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about being blatantly toyed with for the sake of the sale. When I purchase a book I am purchasing a story. I want the story, not a piece of it. If there are cliff hangers or it's not going to give me completion without another purchase then I should be made aware of that so that I can choose to get on board or not. If the author doesn't give me that courtesy then the author breaks trust. I can't change the author, but I can refuse to participate again.

I'll vote with my wallet and be very loud and proud about why I'm doing it. I'm not in the minority I just happen to be noisier than most of those who agree with me.

PUBLISHERS - ARE YOU LISTENING?

WonderBunny said...

I would be freakin' pissed! I paid for a book and instead you give me a marketing ploy! URG! That is so not cool. Thanks for the warning, I'll be avoiding this marketing thing!

-petit said...

This is real? OMG! Everytime that I want to re-read my book, I'll have to sit in my computer, open the site and read? I bet that after the movie release they'll put in book stores the book with the final chapter, but after that you brought a book, you won't want to buy the same book again.
Thanks for the warning. I'll avoid this book, since I won't have the real end u_u'

-petit
A Book and a Cupcake

Larissa {Larissa's Bookish Life} said...

They REALLY did that??? Like, really??? LOL thats ridiculous!!!

Like you said, there should have been at least a warning somewhere on the cover/back cover...

TOTAL MARKETING FAIL!!!

 
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