Marketing Bootcamp

Hey Bartender, I'll Do a Shot of Book

Hey Bartender, I'll Do a Shot of Book
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With 156 books published to date and 325 million copies sold worldwide, author James Patterson knows a thing or two about how to get people's attention. So when he announced recently a new line of books aimed at completely turning traditional book publishing on end, marketing professionals should take notice.

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Later this year, Patterson will be introducing a new line of books, called BookShots, featuring "new short and propulsive novels that cost less than five dollars and can be read in a single sitting." The goal of his new line is to not only capture the readers who are drifting from the traditional novel formats but also those who may have never adopted them. More important, the line is aimed at overcoming a growing challenge of diminishing attentions spans.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, 27 percent of American adults indicated that have not read a book in the past year.  Of course, this does not necessarily indicate that we are not consuming information. On the contrary, we are consuming more, just in much different formats, from online newsletter to games to video. In fact, one survey in 2015 indicates that U.S. adults spend on average 5.5 hours consuming video content every day.

Simply put, in addition to monopolizing our time away from books, digital content continues to erode our focus and attention.

In an interview in New York, Patterson emphasized how these new books would appeal to those who may have abandoned reading because of our fixation with quick, easy to consume content. "You can race through [BookShots]. They’re like reading movies. It gives people some alternative ways to read."

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What is Patterson's strategy to appeal to the evolving habits of consumers? His new line of books will be:

  • Shorter: BookShots will be 100 to 150 pages in length, much shorter than the typical 400 to 500 page novels. At this length, readers can consume the book in a shorter amount of time -- before they lose interest and turn on Netflix.

  • Cheaper: The new books will cost under $5, considerably less than the average book from reputable authors -- and about the cost of renting a movie on Apple TV.

  • More plot-driven: Who has time to consume long, dry and descriptive passages? These books are intended to drive the action and get to the climax quickly -- [insert pun here].

  • More widely available: Patterson actually envisions his new line of books being everywhere magazines are sold, even in the checkout line of grocery stores -- apparently between the Snickers and the National Enquirer.

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For digital marketers, the message is simple: Your message must be concise, easy to consume and deliver value in a short amount of time. This, of course, is something most entrepreneurs already know. With Patterson entering the fray, however, and other authors soon to follow, capturing and keeping consumers’ attention will be an even bigger challenge to marketers.