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Everything’s buy the book
I figured having a newspaper column written about me would result in readers learning things about me they didn’t know. Turns out I learned things about MYSELF I didn’t know.
What I learned is that I’m sitting on a gold mine. Well, it might be a fool’s gold mine.
Doug Moe of the Wisconsin State Journal recently wrote a wonderful column about me and the upcoming production of my stage comedy “Fishwrap.” He graciously described my meteoric rise to journalistic obscurity, from publishing a family newspaper titled the Bromley Blab at age 10; to editing an underground student newspaper at Lancaster High School; to becoming a long-tenured writer and editor at Baraboo’s daily newspaper. Moe also detailed my theater experience, which began with getting dragged to my parents’ play rehearsals as a kid and led to roles in high school and community productions before helping start CAB Theatre in Baraboo.
But none of that is what my friends and family were talking about Monday. What they took away from the column was contained in a paragraph that appeared two-thirds of the way down. Moe mentioned that copies of a collection of my columns about parenting, titled “Daddy Dumbest,” are inexplicably going for big bucks online.
Only the most devoted of my nine loyal readers will recall publication of that book, as it occurred eight years ago and made about as big a splash in the literary world as a maple leaf gently falling atop a lake. “Daddy Dumbest” sold a couple hundred copies, if that, at a price of $12-20, in 2006. It fell out of print a couple years later due to lack of demand. Perhaps my next book should be titled “Lack of Demand.”
In his research, Moe found four used copies of my book available at amazon.com. The asking prices ranged from an astonishing $500 to an astronomical $8,500. Plus $3.99 shipping. Asking for shipping cost makes the seller look like a bit of a cheapskate, but I suppose anyone with $8,500 to spend on a used book can afford to pay the freight.
Moe’s revelation prompted friends and family to confess their plans to sell their signed copies of my book on eBay. Little do they know that the presence of my signature will only devalue their copies.
The shocking news that people were asking hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for my book prompted me to do some research of my own at amazon.com. I found those looking to sell copies of my book unwilling to reply to my queries as to why they wanted so much money for them. Also, I learned that someone named Ben Bromley released a hip hop dance album in 2012. His track is available for download for 99 cents.
That’s a far cry from the $8,500 some outfit called hippo_books wants for “Daddy Dumbest.” It won’t be easy to profit from my book’s skyrocketing price, as I only own a couple copies myself. And now that my friends and family are sure to peddle their copies online, supply may begin to exceed demand.
Of course, I’m not sure there really is much demand. Just because sellers are asking for upwards of $500 for copies of my book doesn’t mean they’ll get it. Just because I put my copies up for sale doesn’t mean anyone will buy them. And just because I ask people to come to my play doesn’t mean they will.
If the seats are empty in September, I’ll know it’s because everyone is too busy listing copies of my book on eBay. Such are the things you learn a newspaper column is written about you.
Ben Bromley’s play “ Fishwrap” will be staged Sept. 5-7 and 12-14 at the Al. Ringling Theatre in Baraboo. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at ben_bromley. A former Lillie Suburban Newspapers editor, he now writes for the Baraboo News Republic.