Today I saw the most brilliant thing I have seen in a week or 2.
Okay, so you know how you go to the store and while you’re waiting in line to cash out, there’s gobs and gobs of utterly useless crap and empty calories surrounding you? They scream at you: Buy me! Buy me! You need me! You cannot live without me one more second!
I’m mostly inured to that now. I’m too busy trying to figure out how Nostradamus gets so much press and I don’t.
However, today I had reason to go to Office Depot. Now, you must understand. Office Depot is like a crack house for me. I go in, I don’t come out for days, high on the scent of new paper, new pens, new plastic floor pads (the ones that go under your chair). Ah, the smell of bubble wrap in the morning.
But today I only needed to return something and went straight to the counter. On my way out, however, in that space reserved for mindless crap wanting you to buy it, I saw a good ten linear feet (3 feet high) of trial-sized toiletries. You know, like at Wal-Mart. Only better. More thoroughly thought out.
I looked. Looked again (and crap, didn’t take a pic; I’ll go back). Studied what they had. Nothing useless and several brands of each type of toiletry (Crest and Colgate, for example).
You may think this is no big deal, but it IS. This is value-added at the finest. It’s not Sony “fashion earbuds” (although those were way cute); it’s not some weird executive toy I couldn’t figure out how to work; it’s not the ubiquitous calendar. It’s also not the candy/pop/bottled water section.
No, it’s TOILETRIES. People need those. People who shop at office supply stores need those because, you know, I bet lots of business travelers end up at an office supply store. And they might have had to stop at Wal-Mart or Target later to get one of those toiletry items, but they don’t have to now because Office Depot had it. HALLELUJAH! I’ll tell you, the trip from my Office Depot to my Wal-Mart (across a highway from each other) would take half an hour because of traffic, parking, and walking. That’s money saved, people. And just think if a business traveler already knows those things are there! When he’s in a strange city, he knows he can go to the nearest Office Depot and get his packing tape AND his toothpaste.
And BRANDING! I will forever now associate the Office Depot BRAND with stocking things business travelers NEED. It’s not a high-cost item. Doesn’t take up much floor space. Dollar for dollar, I’ll bet that’s got a high ROI.
Okay, so what does this have to do with e-books?
Things you can’t get in the print version.
If you were inclined to buy my book, but you knew the e-book version had about 10 extra scenes or character vignettes or lists of resources I used or a list of the songs I listened to while I was writing it (things that are not in the print version), would you be more inclined to check it out?*
I would. Give me a favorite author in e-book (one I’m inclined to buy in hardback anyway), tell me it’s got extra stuff on it, don’t slap any stupid DRM on it, and I’ll buy the e-book for the extra stuff and the hardback for the art.
*It doesn’t yet. Be patient. I’ll retroactively send the extra package to those e-book purchasers.