What Dickens Did for Direct
Hence, the term paperback.
Then Dickens did the arithmetic for the publisher. “Add it up,” he said. “Twenty installments of three chapters each selling at one shilling each amounts to 20 shillings, and all you get for a book now is three shillings. You are going to make a lot more money selling books my way.”
Direct marketers today call Dickens’ proposition contrast pricing and a continuity program payable in convenient and easy monthly installments.
Then Dickens was challenged by the publisher with the question, “What makes you so sure people will come in to buy the second, third and fourth installments?”
“No problem,” Dickens replied. “You cannot bore a reader. I will make each installment so interesting and exciting that people will be throwing money at us to get each installment.”
Direct marketers know that people don’t read advertising. They read what interests them, and sometimes this just happens to be advertising.
So Dickens invented the serialization of the novel, and in so doing, he pioneered testimonials, white papers and market research.
Because the novel was delivered in three chapters a month, readers would respond with letters of complaints, concerns and suggestions. With negative and positive feedback, Dickens would take corrective action. Armed with readers’ opinions, he would slant and adapt each succeeding three chapters to satisfy public opinion and energize the readers to want more. Today’s soap operas capture imagination the same way.
Dickens received fan mail from all over the world. Some were loving testimonials and others suggested the proper ending for his novel. Readers were actively involved
Direct marketers today would call this CRM—customer relationship marketing. And reader involvement.
By sending just three chapters a month, Dickens was able to match his story to the season. In the spring, his chapters would mention the spring flowers people were seeing in their own gardens as they were reading his novel.