An Embarrassment of Riches

June 27th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Even as we get excited about innovative marketing campaigns, we find ourself wondering what stops reporters from asking the tough questions. Like, oh, “When did living off the grid start meaning becoming invisible to real-life surveillance networks? Have you never heard of spy satellites?”

Yes, indeedy, folks. We have ourselves a situation where the publisher is convinced they have the next Da Vinci Code (hey, they have the editor — it’s not such a leap of logic), but the author isn’t willing to get caught up in the publicity machine. So much so that Jason Kaufman felt obliged to defend the existence of John Twelve Hawks, author of the sure-to-be blockbuster The Traveler:

“People are naturally suspicious, and I don’t blame them,” Mr. Kaufman said. “There are all kinds of marketing gimmicks that go around. But I’m convinced this is not a gimmick.”

And we are pleased that Kaufman is comfortable with his author’s eccentricities. It leaves more time for others, like us, to speculate. Let’s face it: the aura of mystery is irresistible (though we are already building our force field, just in case). While the author is refusing publicity, though surely being hit with the costs in some manner, Doubleday is marketing the book like there’s no tomorrow.

The official site for “The Traveler,”, has a game in which players use surveillance techniques to track a minor character from the book. Doubleday also set up what it calls “unofficial” Web sites, including a blog ostensibly written by a character; Web sites for a fake auto body shop and martial arts studio with no obvious links to “The Traveler”; and a site for the Evergreen Foundation, an insidious presence in the book.

May we suggest, that, uh, when a website is set up by a publisher for the express purpose of marketing, that said site is indeed “official”? It is paid for by the corporation. It is sanctioned by the corporation. It is part of the marketing campaign. And consumers have amazing savvy when it comes to these things. We can only hope that Doubleday resisted the inevitable urge to put a logo or trademark somewhere, anywhere, just tuck it away in a little corner where nobody will notice.

Also, spilling the whole story to the New York Times isn’t exactly keeping it a secret.

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