Tuesday, October 4, 2011

BIG ROLLOUT -- FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT

Today I am sending out a 12 page prospectus on the newest and probably the best thing I have ever done. For a change, I am trying to make a few bucks instead of "giving it away" like with SCORE (which if I get 50 more subscribers I still won't break even!). If you haven't gotten your copy, send me your email address (to: bob@thinkerspressinc.com) and I will forward one.

It is an interesting experiment but I know beforehand the dangers of a radical price increase. The FACT that subscribers will get so much more than before won't be lost on a few people, but probably will be on many. As it is well known than MANY successful businesses, still operating today were started in depressions and recessions, I wanted to take a chance.

It involved a MONTHLY printed publication which helps make use of books you probably already own but haven't read. It involves "stuff" I will be digging up or have dug up which you won't know about at all. And it involves in shipping CDs every month or every other month (I don't know anyone doing that).

A year or so ago Andrew Martin paid me a Big Compliment. It was part of my job to submit chess quizzes for the "Right Move," an English chess publication for youths of which HE was the chief editor (I was the designer). Andrew said my quiz selections were some of the best he had ever seen! There was a reason for that, a Secret which I have still kept and will continue to use.

Since I can do that type of selection, which is not exactly the easiest thing in the world, I figure I can also choose GAMES to go onto a CD you have never seen and EXTRACT the maximum benefit through light notes. Imagine, if you can, coming up with 167 different games, each or every other month to be annotated and put onto a CD. Sounds easy except:
a) I won't be getting these from books known or unknown;
b) Many, maybe 80%, will be players you will never have heard of; in the rest you might recognize the names but probably NOT the games;
c) I have a method for selection, which I will not reveal, which will cover games from all eras but in proportion to the number reported (played);
d) The likelihood of using ANYTHING in the CD collection I have used before is so remote that as I was putting games together for statistics, I think I may have recognized 1-2 out of the first 400! That's a half of 1%. I will be doing 10,000 of them out of a database of 680,000 games.

The reason that last stat is a biggie is because one client wanted the new "Tactimania" book by Glenn Flear because he was looking for positions he hadn't seen before for a change (they are all original with Glenn or his wife, a former 5X Women's Chess Champion (France)). I have heard this complaint before and it is easy to see why it has BECOME a complaint--here's the answer: editors and writers sometimes have their back up against a deadline and may need something--so they go to something they remember doing or a friend of theirs did, and LIFT it.

I've never liked that or its justification for doing it in the first place. Thinkers' Press won its spurs for originality and not for doing retreads like a tire company. It costs more (dollars and time) to do that. I've been reading, or finishing I should say, Robert Ringer's book, "Getting What You Want" and there are big discussions in there of dealing with "bad" people. Maybe the worst are "nice" bad people. When you are aware someone is a crook, or loser, you can deal with them because you already know that. You may not like it, but you know WHAT to expect usually. But when you deal with "nice" people who will cheat, steal, and lie to get what they want, and have a smile on their face, it's much harder.

He gave as an example an acquaintance who told Ringer he really liked Ringer's ethical and moral philosophical approaches to matters, and, that he was just like him!  Well, he wasn't! Later the conversation came up about software and he told Ringer that he obtained lots of "pirated software" but figured he was doing the manufacturer a favor (!!) When Ringer asked how that could possibly be, the guy gave him a line I (personally) have heard before, but still find it hard to believe: "If I like it, I will tell others and they will buy." I think we should assume that is NOT the case and what actually happens will be:
a) He will brag to others how he got the software and how they too can get theirs for free; and
b) If someone calls him on it (as I have had the temerity to do in face to face events) he will use that well-worn excuse, "They are making plenty of money anyway and they won't miss thirty bucks from me!"

If you took Logic or Ethics (or both) in college you know how weak and disingenuous this argument is (1) they have no way of knowing that what appears lucrative really is and (2) they will miss the $30-$150 anyway, because there are 10,000-100,000 others out there with the same attitude, and that means millions.

Having the money could mean the difference (leaving moral issues aside) in building a manufacturing facility with cash and borrowing from one of those loser-banks which helped get us into the mess we are now in. Personally, and businesswise, I don't have much good to say about banks or bankers as when you question them on anything, they blame someone else. I want to get my home loan paid off, and pffft, I'm finished with banks!

So I know that because past purchasers of TPi products were getting something that wasn't exactly cheap (Purdy's Chess Chronicles, for example), raising the bar as I have done with "To The Point" is going to be a bigger gulp for some! It's economics. If I put out a publication for $20 a head and have 100 subscribers, that's $2,000 and that doesn't cover the cost of the writers, research, layout, design, etc. So the solution is to get 1000 subscribers--that is NOT easy to do.

We are in this "privacy" age where every weenie who sits at his computer all day long resents "emails" from someone who might try to sell him something. He can unsubscribe or hit "delete" but instead wants to vaporize you with his vast knowledge of the FCC regs. (hot air). I haven't done this, but I have been treated as if I had.

Or, I can put out a $200 publication for 100 subscribers, like an exclusive, and make the same amount of money IF I can get the 100. Same amount of money, but 90% fewer questions and emails which are major time-suckers.

Personally, I like the idea of "exclusives" as I have been left out in the cold in the past whether it was magic or chess or something else.

Having concluded the recent Red Wing event at the end of July I "know" what the problem was. Yermolinsky was a GREAT asset to me (and those who came), but wasn't looked on as such by everyone else. "Yawn, so what, 2X US champion, I've seen him at other events." He hasn't created an aura of 'scarcity' like Fischer did, even though he was good. He was genial rather than irritating. People, in general, WANT bad boys (lots of women LOVE them bad boys). If I had advertised that the Grandmaster who last year came to his table and was drunk, I would have had MORE to show up up! If I said, "Grandmaster X is coming and he wants to armwrestle your grandmother while she wears a thong and a tramp tattoo," the turnout would be much bigger. The news media would be there. Sensationalism.

So I have created a new publication, let's see what the chess world thinks. Will a path be beaten to my door? Don't know, but I will be promoting it outside of my usual email circle of contacts.

My contention IS, if you are willing to play through 10,000 annotated games (not annotated by GMs), you will become  a mortally strong player). You may think you have the time to do it yourself, to save $25.00 a month, but 99% will NEVER do that despite their "best" intentions.

Bob

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