Tuesday, November 2, 2010


At the recently concluded Chess Clinic I continued to have big ears, as all resellers should.

I overhear snippets of what the attendees have had to say about various products, esp. DVDs and even reviewers of DVDs. Often the "data" is much different than what I believe some producers and critics "believe" which comes from their own mouths.

Certain DVD packages sell because of the "completeness" bug (i.e., "I have to keep my series complete.") Some are disdained because the "author" (i.e., speaker) is half way unintelligible. Some people want to "see" the speaker though this adds nothing to the script and in fact is a distraction should the speaker make a slip. When you are in your car is it necessary to "see" who is narrating or speaking? I think Scott Simon on NPR's weekend is terrific, one of the best, but I have no idea what he looks like because, it doesn't matter. I can recognize his voice at any time of the day. NPR also has a Steve Inskeep, who is much less interesting, but on everyday!

But books come in for their share of disappointment too. Some of the publishers are finally "learning" to fatten up the content, an approach I recommended a long time ago... but what is happening, for example with Everyman Chess, is that they are steadily fattening up the prices and from my selling point, I've noticed that it is slowing down EC sales because the content is the same. I read a marketing guru this morning who said "Don't raise your price unless you are giving them more!" One book, "Dangerous Weapons of the Caro-Kann," soon to be released (and from EC!) has to go up $3 because, a hundred more pages were added. That's what I mean.

IM Andrew Martin mentioned to me, "Opening books are dated as soon as they are published." (Which is often true of almost everything.) With the exceptions of strong players and a few others waiting in the weed, howevers, most buyers don't notice (or care), unless they lose!

But to finish with the original conversation, many topics (er, GOOD ONES that is) will still sell if properly promoted. But cranking out opening tomes is the number one revenue source. Some people such as myself collect "resource" materials. A few others like Puzzle Books because they like the "mystery" of finding the solution.

At this clinic I forgot to bring some of my Batsford books and it seems no one noticed. There is a good new one (by Soltis, Studying Chess Made Easy) which was in that group, and I have sold a bunch... but I do regret not bringing that one--just overlooked it (high on a shelf). One attendee told me he had recently taken up the King's Indian and found Martin's King's Indian Battle Plans the best of all the books out there! (I am not surprised because Martin went to the trouble of laying out a plan for each of the 200 annotated games--what a concept!).

Point is, like a boss at a company, like a foreman at a factory, I should listen to what is being said in the background and then "filter" it for newsworthiness. So, considered opinions are always welcomed.


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