Wednesday, September 22, 2010

“Open a book to page ninety-nine and read . . .”

Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands

Conventional wisdom tells us not to judge a book by its cover. But what’s the alternative? The writer Ford Maddox Ford once suggested that readers "open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you."

It seems like odd advice, but a glance at a stimulating blog called The Page 99 Test reveals how effective this technique really is. The blog invites authors to share the 99th page of their work, and explain why it does (or doesn’t) reflect “the quality of the whole.”

As you might expect, the page ninety-nine rule doesn’t always apply. And yet, reading an author’s description of a single page of a book is a fantastic alternative to a traditional book review – and it’s definitely more informative than even the most insightful evaluation of a book’s cover art. The page ninety-nine test gives you a feel for the texture and tone of a book, without giving away too many goodies.

The blog inspired me to go back and give my book Lovemarks the page-ninety-nine treatment. Sure enough, page ninety-nine is devoted to a key theme in the Lovemarks philosophy: inspiration.

“I believe the most important thing any adult can do for a child, any leader can do for his or her people, any product can do for its owner, any event can do for its audience, is to inspire them. Only inspirational brands can be Lovemarks.”

This does it for me, it’s Lovemarks in a nutshell. From now on, I’ll be doing the page 99 test before I buy.


Susan P. said...

Why not a page 10 test? It struck me that any page could have done as equally?

The 'first ten' pages are a principle in script writing. Usually the reader will either be sold, OR, will turn away, by that initial content.

Online you have a much more limited have a few seconds to grab them on INITIAL content - if they aren't grabbed or the info is too slow - they click out and away. Loads of research about that.

So, I would content that if you're looking to strike, if not love at least evocation, you need to do it early.

I guess page 99 or 86 or 75 are useful simply to see whether there is still meat in the casing. Or, whether there is longevity of substance.

Susan P. said...

To add..the first ten pages develop the 'care factor'. If one translates that to client or consumer sales, it's that initial experience/encounter/transaction that tends to 'set' the conception.