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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why Does "Poerty" sic Not Sell

"Why does poetry not sell?" a poster wondered on a forum somewhere. I thought about the question, because I too write poetry. My answer to him applies to me also.

Poetry doesn't sell well because there simply isn't a huge demand for it. When was the last time you saw a poetry book on the front table of a bookstore? In a traditional bookstore it's normally in the back on the bottom shelf. It might get some notice in April during National Poetry month. Really, is this society demanding poetry? Will there ever be a superbowl size event featuring poets? I may be wrong, but the last hurrah for poetry might have been during the 70's or mid 80's. Sure you have spoken word events, but those focus on something else besides the poetry.
Then there is the issue of who are you? Do you hang out in poetry circles online or in the physical world? Do you attend readings where you can mention your book or books? When you're selling poetry, you need to have an audience to bring with you. Much like a hairstylist might be expected to bring clients to a new shop.
There is also the matter of taste. Some people are more into form and all of the formal constructs of a poem. Some don't like "messagy" poems. Some people don't like rhyming poetry.
And now your pricing...I might pay $6.99 for a book from a poet I know something about...Amiri Baraka, Billy Collins, Rita Dove maybe, or Allen Ginsberg. If I go to a reading and if the poet "wowed" me I might buy their book.
Maybe lower your price for the ebook and save that higher price for a paperback edition.

If you're a poet or poetry lover, share your thoughts.

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