Monday, February 08, 2010

Nerds: the Alpha Consumers?

Let's take a look at a sub-culture that influences the world (or at least the United States). They wear pocket protectors, weird glasses, often times their hair gives you the impression that they don't care about how it looks. But what are we missing about these young men (and occasionally women)? Let's see...maybe it's the fact that, despite their lack of popularity in middle school and high school, they RULE THE WORLD! Steve Jobs and Bill Gates...enough said.

Okay, not quite enough. As a writer of Fantasy and Sci-fi, I keep my eyes and ears as close to this culture as I can. It helps that I'm part of that culture, but that's beside the point. The real point is, just because YOU could throw a football 30+ yards into the arms of a WR in high school and WE got, at best, ignored into the corner with our unusual dice and dorky card games, it doesn't mean that we don't set trends. Many parts of current pop culture are now in place because twenty years ago, we nerds decided it was cool. We spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars importing Japanese comics and TV shows until companies decided to bring them into the States and translate them into English. NOW, if you walk through Borders or Barnes and Noble, the Manga section takes up more space than the Horror section, and in some cases, even the Mystery section is smaller.

World of Warcraft is another example. At first, only nerds played MMOs, and even when WoW came out, you couldn't find a lot of "popular" people playing it. I've met some of the most "socially acceptable" people, who you wouldn't think are capable of even installing the game on their computer, who know more about this game than some of my friends (I'm pretty ignorant about the game because I never spent much time playing it, but my friends are MASTERS).

We also have PAX, an Expo created by two men who make a living writing comics about video games. That shouldn't be possible in an era where, supposedly, the rich and powerful thirty-somethings in New York decide what should and should not make money. But guess what...the Nerds are the new Alpha Consumers! That's right...we spend a large portion of our disposable income (definition of Alpha consumer) on things like Star Wars conventions, Video Game expos, D & D books, Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels, and plane tickets to London JUST so we can get our picture taken at Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station!

So what does this mean? Should you change your approach to appeal to the Nerds? If you're writing a genre that would appeal to them, I'd consider the value of it. We read to escape from the bullies, to imagine ourselves in another world, and often times to give ourselves something to discuss with our nerdy friends. If you don't plan on writing something we might be interested in, then ignore what I've just said. Overall, appealing simply to the forty-year-old women who spend ten thousand dollars on a pair of shoes is great for Cecelia Ahern and Nora Roberts, but if you want a loyal fan base who will plug your books for free, assuming they're great, then you'll get it from the Nerds of the world! And you may even get rich! (But that's not nearly as likely as you may think.)

1 comment:

  1. All hail the power of NERDS!
    Frankly, my life would be far less interesting or technologically advanced without all my "nerd" friends. But I prefer to call them "techno-dorks"...since all of them seem to have a knack for both writing, laughing, and fixing electronics.