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A Correction of Sorts

Here’s what I wrote a few weeks ago, just as we embarked on a short California book tour:

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.

Aside from sounding at least mildly ungrateful, it turns out I was also wrong. HarperCollins did let us see the resulting California sales data and — well, it was pretty impressive. Sales in the S.F. area jumped 30% the week we were there, and another 7% the following week. The L.A. numbers weren’t quite as good but still significant. San Diego and Sacramento picked up too. And that’s just the short-term effect, obviously. We had a chance to spread the Freakonomics vibe to a couple thousand people in person and many many more on local airwaves. (It’s a shame we didn’t have more time for bookstore appearances, since there are so many good ones there.) So the next time your publisher offers to send you somewhere, anywhere, the answer would seem to be: yes, please.