Monday, February 22, 2010

Nerds Revisited

Only two weeks ago I stated the premise that Nerds are the new Alpha Consumers. I never realized how irritated people would get by that particular statement! So let's revisit this topic. First of all, many of the folks who commented on the forums were offended at my use of the word "nerd" if I'd used another "N" word to describe a group of disenfranchised people who happen to have similar interests. It seems that many of the activities enjoyed by nerds are also enjoyed by so called "normal" people, and these normal people took exception to the idea that their chosen forms of entertainment could be considered nerdy. But just because you like Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, or super hero movies, it doesn't make you a nerd. So there's no need to say, "Hey, I love Star Wars, and I'm not a nerd!" It doesn't disprove my point.

This concept is still rolling around in my head because last week Todd Newton and I were discussing his book, The Ninth Avatar, which will be released through Trapdoor Books later this year. As matter of fact, we were discussing this very topic and how it relates to his book and (if I remember correctly) some of the goals of the publisher. You see, Trapdoor wants to sell books that have mass nerd-appeal. That's one of their core demographics. As far as Todd is concerned, he expressed a worry that his book may not be NERDY ENOUGH to sell to the audience he's hoping for. (I really should take better notes on conversations that use on this blog because I can't remember if that's %100 accurate, but Todd reads this blog, so he can correct me in the comments if I'm off.)

Let's take a look at publishers like Wizards of the Coast, TOR, and ACE and ROC. Look at the front page of any of these publishers' websites. These are some of the largest publishers in the Unites States, and their entire book list is filled with Fantasy and Sci-fi titles.

Nerds read this stuff...obsessively (though not all of them do. That needs to be noted). Two weeks ago I used the emerging Manga market as an example of how nerds influence the buying and selling decisions that are made in the publishing world, both by publishers and booksellers, but when I brought up Star Trek conventions, Star Trek fans who don't consider themselves to be nerds simply got offended that I used an entertaining show to prove my point. Well, I just made a better point. All of those publishing houses cater to a demographic with a tendency to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per year on books about magic, alien races and far-fetched technology.

However, nerds exist in other genres. Take another look at Twilight. Or CSI, or any author who has written a series of books. I guess my point is, nerd isn't a dirty word, and catering to the nerds is actually a smart business decision because they're the ones who create know, the type of advertising that costs you nothing. Some of these folks will even loan out their copy of the book to someone who they KNOW will never return it, but because they love the story so much they go buy another copy for themselves. (A buddy of mine did that with the TV show Firefly...three times.)

I guess that's all I have to say for now. Just remember who your audience is, and try not to get offended when they don't turn out to be as "cool" as you might like them to be. And just because they like the same things you do, it shouldn't ruin those interests for you.


  1. No correction required, that's exactly what I was worried about. Thanks for the plug, btw.

  2. Speaking of Star Trek... just saw this article on ClickZ this morning:

    Are Trekkies Having all the Fun in Social Apps?