Parents of young children all over the United States are talking about a visiting professor at Rutgers University’s Camden campus and his book.
The book is Amazon.com‘s top bestseller, and is searched on Google every quarter of a second, digging up 379 million results. It’s been the subject of news articles in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and others in the past week. And the Web-savvy can locate a PDF of the entire 18-page work with just a few clicks.
Yet “Go the F— to Sleep” isn’t scheduled for publication until next month, so the question for author Adam Mansbach is: If millions of people have downloaded the PDFs of the book before it reaches store shelves, why would anyone go out and buy it when the book is released?
John Yarusi, a Red Bank resident and director of strategic branding for Olive Media, compares the buzz around Mansbach’s book, which is illustrated by Ricardo Cortes, to a band considered one of the more progressive marketers in the music industry.
“Take Radiohead,” Yarusi said. “They had a new record come out a few months ago, and they did some prerelease stuff online to create buzz and whatnot. If you get it for free, why would you buy the record? But I’ve got to think those people are smart enough to know, even though there are a million people who got it for free, there’s going to be 2 million people that are going to purchase the thing online.”
Yarusi said many orchestrated viral marketing campaigns don’t go the way firms intend — either they get sniffed out as inauthentic or they don’t reach the intended demographic. Buzz surrounding “Go the F— to Sleep” is authentic because its audience considers the product genuine. Yarusi cites the example of Hush Puppies shoes, which author Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in “The Tipping Point.” In the book, a small number of influential and trendy people began wearing Hush Puppies, and the brand was reinvigorated when other people copied the trend.
“It hits at the exact right time, and there’s a feeling and nobody’s addressed this feeling, and this guy just struck that chord and it took off like wildfire,” Yarusi said.
While Yarusi says he’s not sure if the media saturation will help or hurt book sales in the long run, he said its success can be measured by comparing the number of PDFs downloaded to the number of books sold — and watching for further branding.
According to Variety magazine, Mansbach and publisher Akashic Books already have sold the movie rights to Fox 2000. Mansbach and an Akashic Books spokesman declined to comment before the official release date.
“Brands are all about extensions, like franchise or added value by creating more books,” Yarusi said. “Already, I see this book as being extremely successful, and the guy is going to write 10 more just like it, hit that similar tone — and from there, he has a franchise built around the book.”
As if to prove how much buzz is following this unpublished book, Yarusi added, “I’m at home right now, and my wife is in the background, and she goes, ‘Oh, I heard about this book.'”