January 8th, 2009

A professor at Harvard explains why publishers will still pay big bucks for potential blockbusters

“Media companies' hit-focused marketing did not emerge in a vacuum. It reflects how consumers make choices. The truth is that consumers prefer blockbusters. Because they are inherently social, people find value in reading the same books and watching the same movies that others do. This is true even in today's markets where, thanks to the Internet, buyers have easy access to millions and millions of titles. Compounding this tendency is the fact that media products are what economists call "experience goods": that is, shoppers have trouble evaluating them before having consumed or experienced them. Unable to judge a book by its cover, readers look for cues as to its suitability for them, and find it very useful to hear that "Dewey" is "a 'Marley & Me' for cat lovers." In much the same way that potential publishers do, readers value resemblances to past favorites.”

Click here to read more. But maybe not in the Opera browser. Because Opera didn’t seem to like it. I read it in Safari just fine.



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Teaching kids to write

Teen (who was only recently promoted from kid) is being taught to write stories and essays this year. But sometimes what teachers teach and what I actually do as a writer who makes her living writing is completely different.

For example, Teen asked me, “Does every paragraph in your books have a topic sentence and three supporting sentences?”

Her teacher’s approach feels like learning how to dance by looking at a diagram. Or watching a video that doesn’t show the dancers’ feet at all.

Teen is supposed to find a way to write a creative story about a past event. She chose the 1904 World’s Fair. It featured corn palaces, and she wanted to combine it with some elements of the Children of the Corn movie. She wrote it out and asked me to look to it over. Immediately, I became like all the critics I don’t like to listen to. “But why did X happen? There has to be a reason.” And then I got explain the concept of “plot holes” to her.



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