BURNING BOOKS FOR FUN AND PROFIT

I’m going to burn a copy of God’s Others.

During the run-up to this year’s anniversary of 9/11, I learned an important lesson in public relations. After 40 years in advertising, you’d think I’d have picked up this bit of business savvy. But I’m not embarrassed. I’m encouraged. Now I can launch a wildly successful PR campaign for God’s Others. And I can do it on the cheap.

I haven’t chosen the venue yet. We’re a little sensitive to fire here in San Francisco after a gas line exploded in nearby San Bruno, killing and injuring residents, and decimating a whole neighborhood.

But this is business. So maybe I’ll torch God’s Others on the steps of City Hall. Lots of protests take place there. Or go incendiary in front of my neighborhood bookstore, Green Apple on Clement Street, and then celebrate with coffee at the Toy Boat. No hunting for parking or paying for a garage. I can walk. I might even burn a copy atop the Marin headlands, which look down on the Golden Gate Bridge. Makes for a great visual. They shoot car ads there all the time.

What’s important is that the media will fall all over themselves to cover the event. They’ve got a track record, you know.

Now, I’m not suggesting that burning my own book rather than someone else’s—particularly another religion’s scripture—will induce comments by President Obama or General David Petraeus. Hilary Clinton probably won’t call. But is a small mention by Katy Couric or Tom Friedman too much to ask?

This I know. If I get only 10 percent of the coverage provided to the pastor of a small evangelical church in Gainesville, Florida—the guy who threatened to burn the Quran on 9/11—I’ll sell a ton of books.

Of course, I’ll need to offer a reason why I’m reducing God’s Others to ashes. But I’m a creative guy. So maybe my justification will be that garlic doesn’t agree with me. Or the Golden State Warriors haven’t won an NBA championship in over 35 years. Or too much fog envelops my neighborhood. If the garlic growers in Gilroy, the Warriors’ dancers or the Chamber of Commerce burns my effigy so much the better. You know the old saying: bad press is better than no press. Way better.

After all, what does it matter if I act like a moron? The more ridiculous I am, the more the media will expose my name and face, the more copies of God’s Others I’ll sell, the more money I’ll make and the more I’ll spend. Which will stimulate the economy and encourage the stock market while our representatives in Washington are busy campaigning.

And that’s what being for God and country is all about, isn’t it?

4 Comments


  1. Ron Laupheimer
    Sep 12, 2010

    Your comments are so appropriate. I was listening to one of the news programs this morning, and one of the commentators talked about the amazing attention this story has gotten. The pastor in Florida apparently has a congregation of less than 50 (according to Hillary Clinton), and the amount of media play throughout the world he got with his burning stunt was unbelievable! I guess this speaks volumes for our “media” today. There is so many of them, with each having to top the others and being first to a so-called “story,” that ANYTHING becomes “news” today, no matter how silly or stupid the activity is. And then it is picked up and sent around the world on the web.

    Please do not burn “God’s Others.” Your deserved recognition will come from people when they read it.


  2. Karolyn Nadler
    Sep 12, 2010

    Right on target, David!


  3. Ira Fateman
    Sep 13, 2010

    I vote for Tom Friedman and the background of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sadly this would probably work. Definitely a potential You Tube moment.
    Ira


  4. Aaron and Jeremy
    Sep 18, 2010

    Well written. Thoroughly enjoyed!

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