How Much Does Dr. Phil Know About Book Publishing Today?

by Kimberly A. Cook        (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

A friend told me about Dr. Phil McGraw’s new book, “Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World.” He’d seen him talk about the book on the NBC Today Show on Nov. 15 and thought it might be a good read.

Sounded good to me too, so I began my search for the book. Checked the Today Show online on Nov. 19 and the video of that segment had been taken down. Odd. Went to Amazon.com to find the publication date. No publication date and I didn’t recognize the book publisher, Bird Street Books.

Seemed different for a six-time New York Times bestseller to go indie, but this might be a big jump if Dr. Phil went to independent publishing. There must be more to the story. Plus the book was listed at $68 at Amazon.com. That can’t be right, I thought to myself.

Next I checked in at Barnes and Noble, the physical store, since online didn’t have any info for me.  They told me it was out Nov. 13, 2012 release date, but Barnes and Noble couldn’t get it. Now I was obsessed to buy this book. Was this a slick marketing ploy to drive up demand?

One of the first rules of marketing is don’t promote something you can’t deliver. Creating demand with a publicity run up to launch is one thing, but providing a barrier to consumers to buy is not necessarily a good idea. Especially in the holiday book buying season.

Back to Amazon.com I went to see if an ebook would be available. I found out from one review that the book is only available at www.thebooknook.com, McGraw’s son Jay’s new online bookstore. The buyer was not too happy with the option to buy from a different online bookstore instead of Amazon.com.

Checked The Book Nook web site and found the prices online were reasonable, ($26 list price but $22.05 at The Book Nook, up to $50 for the other “bundle” choices with extra goodies) but I really don’t want to start up a relationship with another online bookstore; I’m still recovering from losing Borders. I am comfortable with www.Amazon.com, www.bn.com and www.Powells.com and my publisher. How many book vendors do I need to date?

On Nov. 26 at The Book Nook web site it said this is an exclusive pre sale period, so one hopes the book will soon be in the stores and with the other online vendors, but online rumor control says not until January 2013.  Dagnabbit. Libraries can’t even buy it right now according to one Amazon.com reviewer.

It has been four years since Dr. Phil published a book with a traditional publishing house. The world has turned on its ear since then in the book business. Kudos to him supporting his son’s business venture, but at what cost to the buying public?

I am sure Dr. Phillip McGraw did not take this decision lightly and got good advice, but Coca-Cola did the same thing a few years ago when they changed their main Coke recipe and shot themselves in both feet. A fast retreat to Classic Coke ensued.

The first rule of physicians is “do no harm.” The first rule for today’s authors is do no harm to the reader. As author Bob Mayer puts it so well, “Readers Rule!” in the digital age.

Yes, I realize I’m promoting Dr. Phil’s new book, but I’m not real sure about his distribution methods at the moment. Don’t promise me cookies and milk then give me a lump of coal and swipe my new book Christmas present; to mix my Santa, Charlie Brown and Grinch metaphors.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Available copies of Life Code on Amazon.com by resellers are down to $58 now. Onebook reviewer thinks this is the actual price of the book and went on a tirade instead of realizing it is supply and demand right now. Very limited supply. Watch and learn.

12 Comments

Filed under Writing Biz

12 responses to “How Much Does Dr. Phil Know About Book Publishing Today?

  1. mk

    It is published by Dr. Phil’s son Jay via his company booknook.

  2. mike cox

    very disappointting this limited distribution. They were not capable of shipping to Canada but instead of saying anything to their consumers decided to keep their mouth shut take the orders and not deliver them. Merry Christmas!!!!

  3. Jody

    I don’t blame him. So much theft of ebooks online. Maybe through Jay’s company he’ll keep more control of his IP. Good for you, Dr. Phil! Reading b/t the lines… he’s a smart cookie!

  4. Karmen

    Well-written post, quirky woman warrior writer. Especially the description of your personal experience for trying to locate the book. Three insights that come to mind: 1) Less supply can equal more demand. The “Scarcity” marketing principle at work, 2) Independent publishing provides writers with more control, and 3) Dr. Phil has a strong following (or tribe as they say in the digital world of social media.)

  5. EB

    Every Dr. Phil show for the past season, has had a lead-in story line, that is referenced in this new book. He clearly states that each scenario (and solution), can be found in this book, by pulling it up on the big screen. Then he meticulously scrolls through the text to make his point. Brilliant strategy, marketing, and nepotism. I just bought my copy for $14.95 delivered to my door for free.

  6. Jan Keddle

    I ordered two copies of “Life Code” through Amazon, at $14.30 ea. on March 6th., 2013. I live in B.C. Canada, Amazon was terrific in getting the copies to me directly. Unfortunately, when I began to read the book, I soon discovered that many pages were missing and many pages were repeated! Both copies the same so back they went. I have only been able to fine the copy at one outlet here, not at Walmart or Costco as Dr. Phil has stated many times.

  7. carla Henderson

    I have a life story that I think deserves to b told. My story covers all kinds of situations that most people have never gone through and come out the other side with a clear outlook. I thought I grew up n an All-American upper middle class white family….only to discover just how disfunctional this family was.
    Manipulation, babies placed for adoption,grandfather was n KKK I grew up n a very racist family…and married a black man. I could go on and on. I need help or info on how to write this. My story will show people how to survive and come out the other side by taking the higher road.
    Thank you
    Carla Henderson 702-845-8303

    • Carla,
      I always encourage people to write their own stories, you know it the best. One way to start is to enroll in a creative writing class at a local college, join a writer organization, or use writing books to guide you, like mine at Amazon. I am not taking on any clients these days, my schedule is full, but look for a way to start your story.
      Kim

  8. Wendy R. Woods

    I have a completed a written book about my 2+ years as the first female ever to work as a Guard at San Quentin Prison in the 1970’s. I need help in getting it published, ie litterary agent? Trust me it is FUNNY! MY e-mail is wendyrwoods@sti.net. Thank you.

  9. Ronald Austin

    just went on line after Dr. Phil’s show on Dec 8, 2016 to try to get the book from the booknook.com. You can’t even get on the site.

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