Steal This Book!

Recently, I had an unexpected endorsement (sort of) for my book. At the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA), the MFA Associates are committed volunteers who serve as guides or floral designers. The Associates have a small back office where they can take breaks, stuff envelopes, or read – the office has two shelves of books. Most of the books there are about art or floral design, as you would probably expect.

My wife Thu-Hằng is a floral design Associate, and last month she took an advance copy of Bits to Bitcoin: How Our Digital Stuff Works to the MFA. She left it in the Associates office with a note that it’s a “friendly” book. She thought it might be of interest for the other Associates. We agreed that people who volunteer at an art museum should be great examples of intelligent but non-technical readers – my target audience. The presence of “digital stuff” in and around the MFA’s exhibits reinforced the book’s potential relevance.

A few days later, Thu-Hằng thought it would be fun to have me sign the book, perhaps with a dedication to the Associates. After all, I’ve met a number of them and their spouses at occasional dinner parties. The Associates are kind of her “work family” now. But when she went to the lounge to find the book, it wasn’t there! Someone had evidently liked it enough to take it home to read. I do appreciate the implicit endorsement.

Both of us were amused and flattered. Not only had the book apparently found its audience, but Bits to Bitcoin was arguably too appealing. While Thu-Hằng was searching for the book, another Associate mentioned that she had read some of it. “It’s a fantastic book, Thu-Hằng!” (Another nice data point.)

I figure the cost of the missing book can be counted as a marketing expense. Our inadvertent experiment showed that at least some of our target audience really likes the book. We’ll be replacing the lounge’s copy, but this time with a book that has been signed. I’ll also clip some “book business cards” to the cover. That way, people who want their own copy have an easy reminder of how to order one.

There’s only one thing that would make the whole situation better, really. Since the missing book was an “advance review copy” of Bits to Bitcoin, it would be great if the person with the book would also write a positive online review. (Hey, you never know.)

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