Basically… people are lazy

Basically, people are lazy. Publishers forget this. Even I did. They want “content” – no matter what the format – delivered to where ever they are already reading things. They don’t want to have to go looking for something to read – they’d rather it be delivered to their doorstep, to their inbox or to their blackberry/iphone etc.

However, as a recent post on MediaPost Magazines mentions,

“I realized that what I like about Time, or any print vehicle for that matter – be it magazine or newspaper or broadsheet or pamphlet – is that I am exposed to tidbits of information and long-form thought pieces that I don’t necessarily want to fetch.”

It is this quality that magazines, newspapers and print producers of every kind need to remember. If they choose their market, they can provide things that that market didn’t know it wanted to read – but that they will find interesting, nonetheless. While, essentially, this is what “cookies” (web sites use cookies to track what you look at to provide you ads you are most likely to be receptive to) do for advertising, nothing currently exists that can bring together different written content and deliver it in an interesting package and deliver it to the consumer – without them having to do a lick of work.

In order to ‘search’ for something online, a reader needs to know it exists; they need initial knowledge of an event, whether that’s from hearing about it through the grapevine or reading it in a magazine or newspaper. Furthermore, the DISadvantage to the web is that once you know about something, you have to do the work of finding more information on it. While finding information online is certainly easier than the old fashioned way — going to a library — if the writer can anticipate the questions a reader has on the subject matter at hand and present them in a trust-worthy voice, chances are the reader will see no need to go anywhere else for the information.

The other interesting point of view is that people do not generally like to read long pieces online. There is too much noise, too many distractions (checking email, im-ing a friend, twitter, facebook, even interesting but distracting links) and reading on the screen can be hard on the eyes. Many people simply do not like to do it.

Because of this, there is still (at least for now) a demand for printed media. My idea is that the web should contain short, brief and precise tidbits of information, with the same tone/voice/style as the longer printed version. Hook the readers with web content, create a sense of trust and interest, and then offer an easy way for them to receive the magazine or book or … whatever form your printed content takes — while their interest is caught. It will inspire an impulse purchase, and encourage them to take another look at your publication. When it comes to magazines, I recommend offering both a way for them to sign up for a subscription, and a way for them to just order the issue they are looking at. In this way, you can actually create demand for your printed material by including portions of it for ‘free’ online.

This idea can even be used for books. One of my favorite authors has three chapters of his next book for free on his website – they rotate and change every few months. It offers a sneak peak at his next book, and makes you really want to know what happens next … it also creates a reason for fans to visit his website repeatedly. Furthermore, he has promised to post on his website as soon as the book is actually finished. This only becomes an issue when he fails to update his progress (he’s gone an entire year on occasion without mentioning how the book is coming – very frustrating for an impatient reader like myself).

My point here, is that people are lazy -how many times have you seen someone look for the remote rather then just go change the channel on the TV? Or continue watching something they aren’t actually interested in, rather then change the channel? They don’t want to reach – they want to be able to access your content without moving from their seat. Deliver a teaser, however, to where they already are (basically, the same idea as placing an ad in front of them, but this is giving them something ‘free’) and offer an easy way to click through and buy, placing the information in easy reach, and suddenly it’s as if someone has handed them the remote – and the buttons on it lead to you!

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2 Comments on “Basically… people are lazy”

  1. jadedbookman Says:

    This has become almost standard now with my pubs, encouraging the authors to not only post samples on their blogs, but making sure that all new books are on such vehicles as Amazon’s Search Inside the Book program.

    Good post.

  2. mbreau Says:

    Thanks! I’d love to hear more about how you are using digital media to promote authors … shoot me an email if you’re interested in chatting about this some more.
    publishingword (at) gmail (dot) com.

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