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Out of Touch in California

Levitt and I both arrived in Los Angeles late last night after nearly identical flight plans: 90 min. on the ground at our originating airports (JFK for me, O’Hare for Levitt). But no security trouble this time. I had the good fortune to be reading an early copy of The Search, by John Battelle, which primarily tells the history of Google but skillfully places it in a broader context.

Today we do a few radio interviews in the a.m., then tape The Tavis Smiley Show — he agreed to have us on only because we know Roland Fryer — and then a pair of lectures, first at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica and then at the legendary (so we are told) bookstore Vroman’s in Pasadena. Tomorrow it’s off to San Francisco and more of the same.

Earlier in this space we asked if book ads work; now we are led to the next obvious question: how about the author’s tour? Can it possibly be worth all the money and time it takes to fly two people across the country and put them in hotels and drive them around and feed them? We aren’t complaining (last night was the first night in ages that one of my kids didn’t pounce on my bed before dawn), but in this day and age, it’s hard to imagine a less-efficient means of promotion. Maybe HarperCollins will let us see the resulting California sales data as well as the final expense reports. I’m guessing the cost per sale will rival the cost per vote of most Congressional elections.

P.S.: We were lucky enough to be flown business class, on American. They served fillet mignon. It tasted — and I am not exaggerating here — like socks. Dirty ones. Next time, get the chicken.