B is for Bomb-Throwing! Written on April 13, 2009, by Zack.
Ask the man on the street how to create a successful product, and he’ll most likely respond with some platitude about innovation and research. But what he won’t tell you is that he’s an idiot, and the street he’s on is South Moron Ave. Because creating a successful product as nothing to do with innovation, research, creativity, competence or anything else they teach you in those stuck-up, can’t-get-into-without-having-graduated-junior-high-style business colleges. The key to creating a successful product is looking at the marketplace, seeing what’s already successful, then copying it.
To take a relevant example, look at William “The Jolly Roger” Powell’s 1971 classic The Anarchist’s Cookbook. The author saw two already successful products, anarchism and cookbooks, and synergized them into a popular new product, perfect for those anarchist housewives looking to try out fun new recipes (I assume – I haven’t actually read the book). Inspired by The Jolly Roger’s double-up piggy-back, we decided in 1972 to develop our own line of anarchist-related books for the family. And we had all sorts of great ideas for titles in the series, like The Anarchist Guide to Etiquette, Spain for Anarchists, and Talking to Your Teens About Puberty (and Anarchism), to name a few.
Unfortunately, we were only able to publish one title, A is for Anarchy: An Anarchist’s Alphabet.
Citing an enthusiastic endorsement from Abbie Hoffman emblazoning the cover, our publisher reported more copies of A is for Anarchism were stolen then sold. Hence, they canceled the rest of the series. Lesson learned? Maybe sometimes the success of a product isn’t measured in units sold. Maybe, just maybe, it can be measured in the amount of money won from a favorable verdict in a breech of contract lawsuit.
ALSO, in case you are wondering why I wasn’t able to post anything last week, you have this man to blame:
Justin Townes Earle, son of Steve Earle and namesake of country music legend Townes Van Zandt, has been touring in support of his fantastic new album Midnight at the Movies, and I was lucky enough to catch his show at the Tractor Tavern last Monday. Sorry about that! Well, not really.
By the way, I have been to a lot of concerts here in Seattle, and I defy any locals to name a better venue than the Tractor Tavern. I love that place.