A few days ago I was talking about the futility of a lot of self promotion, and last night I had an idea. I know those middle-of-the-night ideas are usually crap, but sometimes they are genius.

The whole problem with self promotion is that most individual writers can’t reach the masses. We aren’t bringing news about our books into people’s daily lives and into their homes. We’ve tried with the internet. It’s helped, but it still involves a conscious decision to go to a certain website.

Folks, let me introduce THE BOOK CHANNEL. Okay, maybe that’s not the best name. I’m sure we can come up with something better. BOOK ME? BOOK WAREHOUSE? BOOK? I kind of like that.

With TV it’s just click, click, click.

What about a 24-hour home-shopping network for books and only books where one book is featured and sold every 30 minutes. That’s an average of 1500 titles a month. Not this crap of one book chosen by Starbucks, or one book chosen by Oprah.

Readers can call in. Authors can appear as guests. Website info and discussion group info are given on the screen. A website that is updated weekly will serve as a guide for the titles and times for featured books and author appearances and also work as another place to order. I’m imagining something like a cross between early MTV, some of the old live music shows, and QVC. It could be real seat-of-the-pants crazy fun.

The problem I foresee is people might buy a few books, not read them because people aren’t reading, then stop buying.

Another huge problem would be a financial one, so some of the big publishing houses would have to invest in the Book Channel. And they would want to push their A-list titles and nothing else, so rules would have to be put in place giving all featured books equal time, with a high percentage of books being chosen by the Book Channel staff. We would have to have some hot reader/hosts from teens to old farts. Or would we call them beejays?

Or genius?

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Okay, this is great. Why not add a travel element. We could do independent book sellers across the Globe. A little history, a little geography, a little tourism and of course we're selling books.Feature the best sellers but also feature the winners of literary contests and new authors. There are millions of themes to choose from, but what about different nights for different genre. And we can call the hosts
Spiners (hard "i")
Great idea, Anne.

I see you featured on the opening show red carpet night.
karyn, yes, i think different features would be great. i think a personal, kind of reality TV element could make it more interesting. definitely get out of the studio. and different themes for different times and days -- yes! i also like ALL your host ideas! it's hard to pick a favorite!
Genius! You can get someone like amazon or Barnes & Nobles or Borders to sponsor it. The BookTV we have here in the U.S. is really crap; I like Sandra's description of the Canadian show. Almost makes me want to move to Canada ...
Sounds good to me. Sign me up!!
The channel runs 24/7...
I think it's got the touch of genius. As some others are hinting at, maybe a constant shopping network format might be difficult, if only because the channel would have no other draw.

As for the infrastructure, why not do a deal with Amazon so that, since you'll sell X-amount of books, you can lower the price and just put the order into Amazon--they'll do the processing and delivery.

But I think the crucial things is to bring people in and keep them there. So, the Bookstores Around the World idea is nice. But how about renting Biography Channel's bios on writers, publishers, etc? Those are a good draw, and many of them are already made. PBS had a great poets-and-writers bio series that would run well too. All these would require some deals with these channels, but since the shows are already there, many of them old, why not use them?

Then you can add the MTV-style events that shake things up, though of course there has to be a way to edit cleverly so that writers who are dull in person can shine! (I'm thinking of myself, of course.)

If your core programming is this kind of book-related entertainment, you can run shopping-channel style shows that last 15-minutes a pop, one between each show. Another benefit of making these sellathons a secondary aspect of the channel is it gives you advertising space during the shows themselves.

I don't know, just first thoughts, but I like the concept a lot.
How about during prime time, or on the weekend, showing movies that were based on books? Only the good ones, of course. But add to it an "enhanced" version like what I saw on AMC's run of "Young Frankenstein" last night - liner notes, almost, about how the film came to be, the creative process, etc. A Book Channel version of this might instead include info about the book and the author.

Another thing would be an "Inside the Actor's Studio" type of show. Even get the same guy to do it, since some of his questions are rather entertaining.

By the way, I hate sellathons. I hate pledge drives on public TV and I hate shopping channels, so those would have to be extremely well-done for me to watch. I'm more likely to buy a book based on what I found out from its author, its creation, etc.
Well, pretty brilliant, actually. Except we can't call them BJs. come on, think about it.

Otherwise, money is really the only barrier. But then I was thinking that John Tesh is a multi-million selling recording artist who can't push a single CD thru record stores. He has sold millions on QVC. Maybe what we need to do is form a co-op of authors and then form an alliance with an existing home shopping network. If we show them entertaining programming (reading with gusto, maybe props, great book trailers, strong interviews) maybe we can do what Tesh has done. And instead of turning to the publishers to supply talent, how about turning to the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Thriller Writers, Inc, etc.? I'm digging this idea.
no BJs???? come on, austin! :D can't believe i didn't notice that. so funny!

a lot of really fantastic and exciting ideas here!
olen, i like the idea of the sales linking to amazon. hate what that would mean for independents, but it would happen regardless of how the books are sold. and in the long run i think the channel would help all book sellers, especially if they are featured in some of the programming.

i know zero about this kind of thing, but i did some online investigating and it looks like a package has to be put together and pitched. and yes, money would be the issue. (sell shares?) i came upon a lot of articles about starting a cable channel, and the one thing people said is that the failures start too small. a woman who started a successful one a year ago began with 100 employees and now needs to hire more. i think the big thing that might be in our favor is the simple lack of anything like this. i recently moved and now have cable due to a temporary intro package. we have so many music channels and film channels, art channels, travel channels, nothing but cspan for books.


i think bio/documentaries would be fantastic, using some that already exist and making new ones. i always thought joe konrath's 500 bookstore tour would have made a good one. i could also imagine a camera following an unpublished writer, but all of that takes big bucks. but MTV didn't start with the Real World. all of that came later. i could also imagine writers shooting their own stuff and sending it in where it could be edited by Book Channel.
carl, thanks so much for your input! i'm processing all of the excellent feedback here and it almost seems that the big part of my original trigger/idea -- home shopping -- might be the thing to toss. or at least give it much less weight. more and more i'm liking the idea of book entertainment television. i've watched book-tv, but didn't realize it was exclusively non-fiction! interesting....


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