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Countdown to Cohen

There are a few authors “ J.K. Rowling being the most obvious example “ who can create line-ups at the cash register on the day of publication. For most books, however, even ones by popular authors, there isn’t quite the same rush to grab a copy the instant it becomes available. Nobody camps out all night for the latest Munro.

This doesn’t stop publishers from trying to create the literary equivalent of the “opening weekend,” however. Media embargoes are one technique to build up a good head of hype, but HarperCollins U.S. has hit on another, much simpler idea: countdowns. If you go to the page for Canadian author Tish Cohen’s new novel, Inside Out Girl, you’ll discover an actual clock counting down the days, hours, minutes, and even seconds to the book’s publication on August 12.

No offense to Cohen, but it’s hard to imagine even the most rabid Tish-head (if such a thing exists) needing to know the exact moment the new book becomes available, down to the second.

If you go to the HarperCollins Canada page for Cohen’s book, however, you’ll find a very different story “ no countdown, no blurb, a longer description of the book, and nary an image in sight. It’s the online equivalent of a harrumph.

Perhaps there is a happy medium between pointless countdowns and a Mennonite-like shunning of frills?