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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Neil Pasricha -- Making New Money Off an Old Fad

Just watched a TED talk by Neil Pasricha, author of "The Book of Awesome," and now apparently a franchise of other related books (the book of business/holiday/etc awesome).  WTF?  how can that have worked?  To hear him tell it, he started with feeling sorry for himself -- his wife left him and a friend committed suicide -- and then he cheered himself up by writing a blog that noted little things that were awesome -- like a new line opening up at the supermarket.  At first nobody read it, then 10s, then 1000s, then millions.  Suddenly, he got an award for "Best Blog Ever" or something like that, and then he started getting offers for book contracts, and before you knew it, he had a NYT best-seller (which, incidentally, I had never heard of until now, and I see it's about 12,000 on Amazon's list).

But all the things he was talking about sounded like the same kind of things that were in "14,000 Things to Be Happy About," which (I just checked) was first published in 1990.  It is all so old, and of course the idea of appreciating the little things in life goes back much further than that.  The author of 14,000 doesn't seem to mind -- in fact, Amazon indicates that she (Barbara Ann Kipfer) reviewed the "Awesome" book and said "The Book of Awesome gives me 14,001 things to be happy about. Bravo for taking note of the sunny side of life!"

I have a feeling that's the way book marketing and reviewing works nowadays -- be sure to give a positive review, and make sure you're identified as "author" of a related book.  That is probably the best way to sell YOUR book, especially if it's been forgotten for many years.  Check it out: so many reviews -- especially quick one-line reviews -- are written by other authors with intriguing book titles.  It's all just more advertising.  None of it is real.  Except for the fact that the advertising works, and the result is that books on tired old themes get sold.

The usual disclaimer:  I haven't read the book.  It gets a lot of positive reviews on Amazon, and surprisingly few negatives.  So even accounting for the fact that many if not most Amazon reviews are fake, there may well be people out there who like the book.  Maybe the difference between it and 14,000 things is that he goes into cutesy/annoying detail about some of the awesome things -- that seems to be the way to blog works.

I have absolutely nothing against the theme of the book -- I am a great practitioner of appreciating life's little pleasures myself.  It's really the only way to live, and if you don't realize that, maybe you should buy the book.  But it's such an old concept -- I'm just expressing my astonishment that somebody can still make money off of it these days, and go on to the internet -- and onto TED -- and be treated as some kind of pioneer in the art of positive thinking.

I suggest you go to the website ( first, and if you like it, then you can think about buying the book.

This reminds me of my "review" of Tony Robbins's TED Talk.  If it works for you, great, buy all his stuff.  But permit me to still be a little bit annoyed.

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