Edward William Bok > The Americanization of Edward Bok > Page 154



Edward William Bok (1863–1930). The Americanization of Edward Bok. 1921.

Page 154

idea: he could not convince (perhaps because he failed to express his ideas convincingly) his advertisers of what he felt and believed so strongly.

An occasion came in which he was permitted to prove his contention. The Scribners had published Andrew Carnegie’s volume, Triumphant Democracy, and the author desired that some special advertising should be done in addition to that allowed by the appropriation made by the house. To Bok’s grateful ears came the injunction from the steel magnate: “Use plenty of white space.” In conjunction with Mr. Doubleday, Bok prepared and issued this extra advertising, and for once, at least, the wisdom of using white space was demonstrated. But it was only a flash in the pan. Publishers were unwilling to pay for “unused space,” as they termed it. Each book was a separate unit, others argued: it was not like advertising one article continuously in which money could be invested; and only a limited amount could be spent on a book which ran its course, even at its best, in a very short time.

And, rightly or wrongly, book advertising has continued much along the same lines until the present day. In fact, in no department of manufacturing or selling activity has there been so little progress during the past fifty years as in bringing books to the notice of the public. In all other lines, the producer has brought his wares to the public, making it easier and still easier for it to obtain his goods, while the public, if it wants a book, must still seek the book instead of being sought by it.

That there is a tremendous unsupplied book demand in this country there is no doubt: the wider distribution



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