Geist's Clever Sell

"In these uncertain times, authors must take bold, creative strides to market their products," says Bill Geist, a New York Times best-selling author and Emmy award-winning correspondent for CBS News, who was spotted selling his new book, "Way Off The Road," from a wheelbarrow in Times Square.

"There's fierce competition from the pashmina and purse peddlers, but my book is not a knockoff," says Geist, adding that he considered carrying along a few dozen Harry Potter book jackets in case his cover proved less appealing to customers than anticipated. "And dealing a few hands of three-card monte is not out of the question," he added.

This is Geist's 20th anniversary of traveling the back roads of the country and bringing back humorous, often poignant reports of "peculiarly American" people, places, and events to viewers of CBS News Sunday Morning and other CBS News programs. "Way Off The Road" (Broadway Books, in stores May 15) is an account of his favorite pieces and travel adventures for CBS.

As part of his multipronged assault on the best-seller lists, Geist also sold copies at a recent Newark Bears baseball game while selling hot dogs to fans in the stands. "We're giving the book away free with the purchase of a $26.95 hot dog," Geist explained.

In a marketing test run, Geist donned a "New Jersey Turnpike" toll-taker's shirt and manned a booth at the Woodbridge Plaza, charging a test subject $30 for a $6 toll plus a free book. "It's book week on the New Jersey Turnpike," Geist explained to the disgruntled driver.

Geist plans to market his book on "Oprah" and inside boxes of Cap'N Crunch cereal, if representatives agree once they are contacted.
  • Michelle Singer

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