Book Scalping

Thursday, July 17 – 12:10 a.m. ET

We just arrived in Youngstown for the first of tomorrow’s three signings. Everyone’s dragging a little bit tonight. Today was really a remarkable day, one when The Winners Manual was about as popular as the cabbage patch doll at the peak of its popularity. We held three book signings in Columbus today and all three were extremely well attended with excited OSU and Jim Tressel fans.

Coach Tressel began the day at 6:00 a.m. with nearly 30 radio interviews from coast-to-coast from six until 10:00 a.m. He was working on about four hours of sleep, which isn’t really all that unusual for a major college football coach but it’s tiring for anyone, no matter how conditioned to the schedule. The first book signing was at a Kroger store not far from campus. The signing featured members of OSU’s famous marching band and, maybe even more importantly…free bratwurst. The store had ordered 500 copies of the book and was completely sold out of the book by 10:15 a.m. Coach Tressel signed all of those 500 books for a little more than an hour and then signed the books of those who had left the store and had looked to secure books at other stores throughout the city. Some people were actually scalping their books for $100.

The problem with these signings is that the stores never really know how many people are going to show up so it becomes difficult to anticipate how many copies must be ordered. Obviously Kroger came up a little bit short. Those who did get their books signed did have a good time and Kroger was extremely well organized, even though those standing in line were certainly hot standing outside in nearly 90 degree weather. Carol Traver, the acquisitions editor who played a very instrumental role in acquiring the book for Tyndale joined us toward the end of the signing as her flight was delayed leaving O’Hare.

After the Kroger signing we next went to a Lifeway Christian Store in the northeast suburbs of Columbus. This store had ordered approximately 1,300 books and again every single book was sold. There is no question that as many as 200 or 300 more books could have been sold but every single person that had purchased a book had the opportunity to get it signed and to meet Coach Tressel. That signing began at 3:00 p.m. and ended at about 5:10.

Even before the Kroger signing began I began calling our sales team back at Tyndale to make plans to get more books to Columbus. Much of the team was still in Orlando or traveling from Orlando to Chicago from the International Christian Retail Show. Our sales and customer service team was able to rapidly load about 4,000 more books in a large SUV and small truck to be brought immediately to Columbus. I can’t thank them enough for their rapid response.

The final booksigning of the night was at the huge (I’m talking 50,000 square feet huge) Barnes & Noble bookstore on the OSU campus. If you need any piece of OSU clothing it is at this bookstore. This B&N began handing out wrist bands and the first people began arriving at 6:00 a.m., more than 12 hours prior to the 7:00 p.m. signing. However, because they had the wrist bands they didn’t have to wait at the store for 13 hours. The signing was extremely well organized and the venue was really special with many OSU students, alumni, and recently graduated students in attendance. Coach Tressel often asked the students’ majors and they were all over the board: nursing, mechanical engineering, music, philosophy, sports management, journalism. You name it and there was likely a student enrolled in that major. Again, the store sold approximately 1,300 books.

The Winners Manual also continues to do on the online retailers’ rankings. As of this hour, the book is No. 16 out of the more than one million books available on Barnes & Noble, and No. 34 on Amazon’s hourly ranking. There is no question that people are aware of the book. There is quite a buzz. We should find out about a week from today if it will be a New York Times bestseller. It will certainly have a shot, although Christian bookstores are not counted by the New York Times, and the campus B&N is not a New York Times reporting store. We’ll see what happens.

Following the Barnes & Noble booksigning the wonderful staff at the store arranged for us to get food from Eddie George’s restaurant, which is right next door. Eddie is the former OSU running back who won the Heisman Trophy and went on to a stellar NFL career withe Tennessee Titans. He is also a trained and licensed landscape architect. I think I had eaten an apple all day so I splurged with an artery clogging meatloaf and cheese sandwich, which wasn’t really good car -eating food but, man, did it taste good. Coach Tressel splurged on his favorite fried bologna. We were then on our way to Youngstown with with stop for gas about halfway there. We begin tomorrow morning with a 10:00 a.m. booksigning in Youngstown, the place where Coach Tressel led the Penguins to four national championships. It should be a lot of fun.

A special thanks should also go the four members of the Tyndale staff that drove books to Columbus today in attempt to alleviate the crunch for books. They will be taking more books to Youngstown and Cleveland for the signings tomorrow. Thanks need to go to Lindsay McElroy, Adam Sabados, Tom Smillie, and Heather Alred for their help driving from Chicago to Columbus.