Hype. Whether we like it or not, all of us know it well since it plays a factor in how we spend our money. Movies, music, and consumerism itself all thrive on hype. If not for hype's effect on marketing, how else would we have fads (think Furby, Crazy Bandz, etc.) and ever-changing rates of supply and demand? Raising hype before or when a product releases has become a strategy all its own, and hype is definitely a force in marketing. But is it always a force of good?
Even in the publishing industry, there are the shticks to garner word of mouth long before publication date: large publishing deals, blurbs from best-selling authors, large ARC (advanced reading copy) distribution, and heavy social networking presence through advertisements, promotions, and giveaways (to name a few things). All of these things are used to generate buzz -- but, though marketing definitely is necessary, when is it all just too much?
On Wednesday, I reviewed Veronica Roth's much-anticipated and much-hyped Divergent; this book alone is just one example of the hype machine that has been driving the YA book industry for the past few years. Just looking at the back of the Divergent ARC offers the outline for a National Marketing Campaign, which includes mass promotion via the internet (blogs, Facebook, Inkpop, etc.) and advertisements. (And, yes, most ARCs have marketing campaigns of some sort listed in detail on the back covers -- but hyped books, I've found, have a lot of marketing driving them towards popularity. The hype isn't always created by reader response and favorable reviews.) Of course this isn't a new thing, but it's still a bit disquieting that hype has such weight in determining which books are likely to do well and which ones will fade into obscurity.
Do I have issues with hype? Yes and no. While I know that publishers need to do something to gain back the money they gave out in advances to authors while also gaining back profit, I don't like hype just for hype's sake. True, hype is a necessary evil in marketing of any kind, but it also proves to be a double-edged sword for authors and their novels.
As a reader, I'll be honest: hype is becoming something of a scarlet letter when I'm looking at potential books to read. After all, when you hear about a book for months and months before its publication, that hype embeds some expectations within potential readers. Obviously, many hyped books are not going to live up to all of the expectations set upon them since it's impossible to please everyone, but it's still disappointing to read a book that received rave reviews from others and find that you just don't love it that much, if at all. Still, I try to have as much optimism as I can that the hyped given to some books is deserved and/or warranted somehow.
I worry that the emphasis on hype will lead more and more to people seeking to be published less because of stories they want to tell and more because of the gain they could potentially receive from it. I worry that less books will be published because of their stories and heart and more because of the cash flow they will incite. I worry that many readers in the future won't know a good thing when they read it because hype will be the main deciding factor for whether they read a book or not.
I open the discussion to you, Book Lantern followers: what are your views on hype? Does hype affect how you perceive a book before you read it? Are you tiring of hype in the marketing of books, or have you found many great books due to its influence?