New York Investing Group Introduces Alternative to Bookstores for Author Appearances

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Bookstores are rapidly disappearing because of competition from Internet retailers and e-books. Authors are increasingly being left without a place to discuss and sign their books, but one group in New York has come up with a solution.

As brick-and-mortar bookstores increasingly disappear, the New York investing Meetup, an educational group of almost 3500 independent investors, has stepped into the breach to offer authors an alternative venue for talks and book signings.

“Our purpose is to provide unbiased stock market and economic information to the public and in order to further that goal we decided to occasionally interview authors of important current books at our meetings,” said group organizer Daryl Montgomery. The group will be hosting Nicholas Wapshott on March 22nd for a discussion of the controversial “Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics.”

Although Wapshott has been appearing before record crowds at universities in England, he has stated that he was “happy to confirm his appearance” at the New York Investing Meetup. The group not only produces standing room only audiences at its meetings, but also provides a webinar connection so anyone in the United States and Canada can listen in. By definition, all of its members are part of any economic or investing author’s target market.

The specialized audience means that the group can conduct more in-depth interviews than those that take place on TV or at bookstores. While stimulating for the audience, these are not always easy for the writer. Organizer Montgomery is an author himself, a book reviewer, and an expert on inflation. The New York Investing Meetup was at the forefront in accurately predicting events and exposing corruption during the Credit Crisis.

When author William Cohan came to discuss his bestseller “House of Cards”, the sharp questioning on the events that led to Bear Stearns’ demise led him to respond, “I feel like a frog in water that is gradually being raised to the boiling point.” He seemed relieved when the interview was over.

Not all the authors that come to the group are as well-known as Nicholas Wapshott or William Cohan, nor are the books discussed all bestsellers. Arun Motianey was interviewed on his book “SuperCycles” because it had an interesting new view of the markets and the economy.

“We are looking to provide exposure to investing and economic books that provide useful insight that can ultimately help our members make money”, states Montgomery. “Not all of these books are bestsellers and many of these authors don’t have a lot of options for public appearances and book signings. Only a small number of authors can get appearances at colleges, and most can’t get on TV. We are trying to provide opportunities for them that aren’t available elsewhere. We will even consider books that only exist in electronic format,” he continued.

The traditional option of making an appearance at a bookstore is rapidly disappearing because bookstores themselves are closing down. First competition from Internet sellers like Amazon was doing them in and now the transition from physical books to e-books is lowering their sales. The crunch is affecting every type of retailer from the smallest independent to the big box chain. By January 2010, top brick-and-mortar bookseller Barnes and Nobles had closed the last of its 798 B. Dalton stores. Borders, the second-largest bookstore chain, then declared bankruptcy in 2011. All 650 of its stores shut down.

The future doesn’t look much rosier for bookstores either. Many experts like publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin see the decline continuing with the amount of shelf space for print books in physical stores declining by 50% by the middle of the decade and as much as 90% by the beginning of the next decade.

Groups like the New York Investing meetup not only offer an alternative for authors, but a better alternative. They have bigger contact lists than many independent stores and everyone on them is interested in one topic area. Bookstore lists include readers with every imaginable interest.

Organizer Montgomery concluded, “Our group is not afraid to innovate; we are always looking for win/win ideas. Of the almost 100,000 Meetup groups that currently exist; we were the first to do educational YouTube videos and the first to have an associated blog (the popular ‘Helicopter Economics Investing Guide’). Our forward looking thinking is what has allowed us to grow from just a handful of people to the largest investing Meetup in the world. Other groups have followed our lead in the past and we expect our author appearance idea to catch on as well.”

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