an unanticipated consequence of
Jack M. Balkin
Jack Balkin: jackbalkin at yahoo.com
Bruce Ackerman bruce.ackerman at yale.edu
Ian Ayres ian.ayres at yale.edu
Mary Dudziak mary.l.dudziak at emory.edu
Joey Fishkin joey.fishkin at gmail.com
Heather Gerken heather.gerken at yale.edu
Abbe Gluck abbe.gluck at yale.edu
Mark Graber mgraber at law.umaryland.edu
Stephen Griffin sgriffin at tulane.edu
Bernard Harcourt harcourt at uchicago.edu
Scott Horton shorto at law.columbia.edu
Andrew Koppelman akoppelman at law.northwestern.edu
Marty Lederman msl46 at law.georgetown.edu
Sanford Levinson slevinson at law.utexas.edu
David Luban david.luban at gmail.com
Gerard Magliocca gmaglioc at iupui.edu
Jason Mazzone mazzonej at illinois.edu
Linda McClain lmcclain at bu.edu
John Mikhail mikhail at law.georgetown.edu
Frank Pasquale pasquale.frank at gmail.com
Nate Persily npersily at gmail.com
Michael Stokes Paulsen michaelstokespaulsen at gmail.com
Deborah Pearlstein dpearlst at princeton.edu
Rick Pildes rick.pildes at nyu.edu
Richard Primus raprimus at umich.edu
K. Sabeel Rahmansabeel.rahman at brooklaw.edu
Alice Ristroph alice.ristroph at shu.edu
Neil Siegel siegel at law.duke.edu
Brian Tamanaha btamanaha at wulaw.wustl.edu
Mark Tushnet mtushnet at law.harvard.edu
Adam Winkler winkler at ucla.edu
I recently attended my third Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, where among the normal cornucopia of ideas and fellowship, Sam Horn was incredibly generous in helping me sharpen my elevator pitch for a new project.
The cover of the brilliant book Freakonomics proves that a picture can indeed be worth a thousand words. This book by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner not only won the 2005 Quills Book Awards for Business, I’m nominating it for the POP! Hall of Fame for the following reasons.
1. The pithy one-word title is a compelling example of how you can alphabetize a core word (economics) to coin a new term and a one-of-a-kind brand name that belongs only to you. (This technique is introduced in Chapter 3.)
2. The sub-title, “A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side of Everything,” is purposeful in that it promises to reveal secrets which favorably positions the book with its target audience of executives and business book buyers who have “seen it all.” (Chapter 2)
3. Their ads feature a marvelous “Valley Girl” endorsement from the Wall Street Journal that says, “If Indiana Jones were an economist, he’d be Steven D. Levitt.” That comparison linking the professor/author to movie actor/celebrity Harrison Ford broadens the topic’s appeal, turning it into a cross-over book that’s attracted mainstream readers who wouldn’t normally be interested in this subject. (Chapter 5)
4. The authors pose such fascinating “POP the Question” inquiries as “How is a beauty pageant like a crack dealer? What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?” Aren’t you intrigued? Phrasing these unexpected comparisons into questions engages our curiosity. (Chapter 13)
5. The book cover “AFLACs” its premise, “Things are often different than they appear,” by showing a crisp green apple with a slice cut out and you clearly see the inside of the apple is a juicy … orange. This made their abstract concept concrete. This startling image has become an identifiable visual brand that is now associated with their work.
6. Furthermore, this visual contradiction is an excellent example of Contra-brand (Chapter 10) in which they challenge a common assumption, in this case, the belief that you can’t compare apples and oranges. They just did! Kudos.
Horn practices what she preaches. Here’s the pitch she made for her book Tongue Fu! at the 2005 Maui Writers Conference:
My name is Sam Horn. (Pause).
I’ve written a book on how to deal with difficult people — without becoming one yourself. (Pause.)
It’s called … Tongue Fu! (Big smile.)
Tongue Fu! is … martial arts for the mouth. (Point to mouth.)
Some of the chapters include:
Fun fu! — how to handle hassles with humor instead of harsh words.
Tongue Sue! — Tongue Fu! for lawyers.
And Run Fu! — for when Tongue Fu! doesn’t work.
I’ve written about the Lulu title scorer which is a fun (if slightly frivolous statistical) way to predict the success of a book title. But Sam Horn’s take on the subject should probably be in the back drawer of a lot of book publishers (and agents and publicists).