Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Oprah Effect

Some folks have commented substantialy to yesterday's post, so take the time to sift through it and offer thoughts, if you desire. I won't distract with anything today except the recent happenings at Borders.

I've worked 5 of the past 6 days, and the first 4 of them, we sold out of this book entitled You on a Diet by noon (we open at 9:00am). There are no nice pictures on the front, only a solid blue cover. An excessive number of diet books and plans exist in our store. The price is $25.00 which is not cheap as far as books go. So why the heck can't we keep this thing from flying out of the store?

Becaue the author, Michael F. Roizen, went on Oprah.

Now I have never watched Oprah, and I know very little about her. I know that she is rich, that she has a tv show, and that Tim Meadows did an impersonation of her on SNL. But I am currently learning a lot about her without ever seeing her show or hearing her voice.

Every customer I talk to about the book can't tell me anything about it. I don't know what the diet requires, what it's consequences are, if it's any different from South Beach or Atkins or Dr. Phil. The buyers don't seem to know either. All we know is that Roizen went on Oprah with the book. Sold.

I had heard this was the case with her book club, but I'm seeing the dominance up close right now, and man is it impressive. Shipments arrive in quantities of 60 and then simply flow from the truck to the cash register without ever touching the sales floor. And it's all because of Oprah.

Again, I don't know much about her, but I do know she has figured "it" out. She's got to be one of the most influential people on the planet. I don't know of anyone short of Harry Potter that could pull this off - and even HP's got magic on his side. I really wish I had been around Borders when she put a trinity of William Faulkner's novels on display during the summer. Most English majors won't even read Faulkner for fun. He's verbose, consciousnessly streamed (making up words is fun), and darkly comedic. Not exactly beach reading. But I bet it sold. In the dead heat of summer, I bet it sold.

She's untouchable. I remember a while back she had a fella on who was pushing his autobiography, I believe it was. It came to light later on that he purposefully and overtly lied in the telling of his life. One would think this might cast doubt on Oprah's reputation as a book selector. Mr. Roizen's bank account reveals the foolishness of this thinking.

It's really a fascinating and awe-inspiring thing to watch. I don't know how she does it or what she's done, but whatever it is, she has mastered it. I feel priveleged to be able to witness it, like wandering through the Uffizi or watching my school win the National Championship, because people that get the intangible "it" like she does don't come around very often.

In his portrayal of Oprah, Meadows would often be carried around on a platform thing by peons, a la old-school Egypt. I always laughed because Meadows sounded funny in falsetto. I'm starting to see the commentary behind those skits now, being a witness to jaw-dropping market influence and domination. I've still never seen her show, but I now can't say that I've never seen her presence.

1 comment:

Esther said...

If Faulkner is anything like James Joyce, I can see why people, much less English majors themselves would not want to read it. I mean, I see the value in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but I would definitely not read it for fun....

As a small sidenote, I just found out about your blog from Alex's blog! I have enjoyed reading your old entries. I probably won't comment much because my comments will be nowhere near as wise as the other people who seem to comment frequently, but I'll probably pop up now and again. : )