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Bombardiers Promotional Stunt

To coincide with the publication of Bombardiers in 1995, I decided to simultaneously spoof both the financial world and the publishing world by selling shares that paid out after one year based on the performance of the hardcover. On pub day we had a trading party in a makeshift trading pit in the back room of Harry's Bar on Wall Street, which was attended by Jack Kemp, Dick Cavett, and Playboy's Miss April. The event was covered by Entertainment Tonight. Publishing people who came to party had never quite seen a book party like it. For a few months, shareholders were able to buy and sell their shares via a secondary market maintained on an 800 number. A year after publication, the BONDS shares paid $4 to each holder (who bothered to turn their share in). Here are some highlights from the prospectus we used to sell the shares:

Prospectus

500 Shares

Random House

B*O*N*D*S

Bombardiers Obligation Notes Duplicating Sales

Initial Public Offering

In March of 1995, Random House Holdings will privately offer 500 Shares that will return income based upon the sales performance of Po Bronson’s first novel, Bombardiers, to be concurrently published by Random House Inc. Before the offering, there has been no public market for the shares. See "Investment Considerations" for certain information that should be considered by prospective purchasers of the Shares offered hereby.

Global Underwriting Syndicate

Random House, Inc. North America

Secker & Warburg ltd. United Kingdom

Droemer Verlag Germany

Kadokawa shoten Japan

Rcs rizzoli Italy

Gulden Dahl Denmark

The date of this prospectus is September 2, 1994

A Letter from the Publisher

Dear Investor,

It is my pleasure to offer you the unprecedented opportunity to invest in what we believe will be the business novel of the 1990s, by one of the most exciting new authors we have had the priviledge to publish.

The bombardiers in Po Bronson’s brilliant novel are bond salespeople who hustle financial products they barely understand. They are the soldiers of an economic superpower, ragtag troops staking the front lines of corporate influence. Set at the nexus of pure capitalism, the Information Economy, and high technology, Bombardiers will change the way you think about modern business.

Months before its March 1995 publication date, Bombardiers has already become an international sensation among speculators in the publishing business, with a $250,000 sale to Britain, deals with top publishers in Germany, Japan, Italy, Denmark, and Norway, and a $75,000 paperback floor.

Now, we are offering you the chance to ply your capitalist talents in the lucrative and seductive realm of American fiction. We believe fiction is one of America’s most vital growth industries, and that Po Bronson is one of its most promising assets. In t his prospectus, you will learn the financial and literary reasons why you should bet on Bombardiers.

The marketing and sales juggernaut is about to begin. We hope you will join us.

Sincerely,

Harold M. Evans

Legal Matters

These Shares have not been approved or disapproved by the Securities and Exchange Commission or any state securities commission nor has the Securities and Exchange Commission or any state securities commission passed upon the accuracy or adequacy of this Prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

No publisher, publicist, or agent has been authorized to give any information or to make any representations other than those contained in this Prospectus and, if given or made, such information or representations must not be relied upon as having been authorized by the Offerer or any of the global Underwriters. Until March of 1994, all publishers effecting transactions in the Shares are required to deliver a Prospectus to the purchaser.

In addition, all purchasers of the Shares are entitled to a free copy of either the advance Reader’s Edition or the hardcover edition. Because the Novel has a retail value ($21.00) in excess of the expected Share offering price ($4.00), these Shares do not represent a security.

Our Offer

The B.O.N.D.S. will return to investors $1.00 for every 10,000 copies of the novel that are sold in one year in North America. The expected offering price is $4.00 per share, based on Random House’s first printing of 40,000 copies.

 

Net Sales as of March 31, 1996 Value of B*O*M*B*S Profit/Loss (per share)

10,000 copies $1.00 -$3.00

20,000 copies $2.00 -$2.00

40,000 copies $4.00 $0.00

60,000 copies $6.00 $2.00

80,000 copies $8.00 $4.00

To coincide with the publication of the book, Random House will host an offering party in New York City in early March. Those in attendance will have first priority to purchase Shares.

Remaining shares will be allocated to those who have reserved them by phone in advance of the offering.

For both those in attendance and those reserving by phone, you are limited to one share per person of the initial offering. However, after the initial offering, you are free to purchase as many shares as you like from other shareholders on the open market.

We urge you to call 800-###-#### soon to reserve your share. All phone reservations will be "on account," meaning no money will change hands until after the year is concluded. All phone reservations will be "on account," meaning no money will change hands until after the year is concluded.

Those allocated shares will be sent unofficial certificates of ownership.

Shareholders can follow their investment by listening to a biweekly voice mail message at the same number, 800-###-####. This will recap recent reviews and all events that affect the sales expectation. Each month, we will include the number of copies shipped (gross sales), and we will report net sales figures on a semi-annual basis.

It is probable that a secondary market will develop among shareholders, but to avoid conflict of interest the underwriters will not participate in any secondary market.

At the end of the year, checks and/or invoices will be sent to all registered owners.

The expected class of investors includes booksellers and the general public, particularly readers employed in the financial markets.

 

 

 

Report of Independent Accountants

To the Shareholders of B*O*N*D*S:

It is my opinion, based on my extensive grilling of Po Bronson about the plot line to Bombardiers, that he is truly the one who wrote it. My audit also involved interrogating Random House Associate Publisher Walter Weincz about the potential use of shady bookkeeping practices to hide unit sales, and my concerns were satisfied. As discussed in notes A and E to the consolidated financial statements, Random House Holdings changed its method of recording accrued sales in 1994 to adopt the provisions of F.A.S.B. Standards No 106, "Now-You-See-’Em, Now-You-Don’t."

Stormin’ Norman Walker, C.P.A.

San Francisco, California

September 1, 1994

Investment Considerations/Risk Factors

Start-Up Uncertainty: As with all other business startups, there is no sales history to gain comfort from. This is the author’s first book; he has no established audience and zero name recognition among traditional book buyers. Several factors, however, will moderate this risk. First novels draw an inordinate share of media attention and the publishing "buzz" about this novel is already intense due to the numerous foreign sales. In addition, the author has worked in publishing for six years, currently serving as Associate Publisher of Mercury House and as a board member of Consortium Book Sales & Distribution. His contacts and knowledge of the industry will give him an insider’s edge.

Comparable Books: We could not find any books with quite this approach to the subject matter. Its vision is gritty and its characters are slightly bizarre. Most nonfiction business-oriented writing largely assumes the "Great Man Theory" of history, where individual business men control entire markets and alter the course of economic history through their visionary management tactics and entrepreneurial savvy. Bombardiers shows a different view, a view of ordinary employees who are not in control. It is a view of economic history in the way that great war novels are a footsoldier’s trench-level view of political history. We see the very unusualness of the novel as one if its strengths.

Core Audience: Although we expect this novel will appeal to anyone who feels like they’ve spent their life at their desk, we have decided to specifically target our marketing to readers working in the financial sector. This is a class of people that isn’t known to spend a lot of time in bookstores. They’re hard to reach, and they’re jaded about the way their culture is portrayed in the media. Nevertheless, we are undaunted. These people talk. Word-of-mouth can spread like a summer brushfire. Because of this factor, the British publisher Secker & Warburg made a conscious decision to publish Bombardiers simultaneously with Random House—to make sure traders in New York could laugh over the book with brokers in London.

Liquidity: Investors with liquidity as a high priority should not invest in B*O*M*B*S. No guarantees are made about a public market developing for the B*O*M*B*S. As a consequence, investors may have difficulty rapidly realizing the underlying value of shares prior to maturity. In order to facilitate trading, the author will maintain the toll-free 800# to connect potential buyers and sellers.

Expert Opinions

Mario Puzo: "Bombardiers is a wonderful read. Bronson is a man to watch. You will never invest again."

Ron Carlson, author of Plan B for the Middle Class: "This is called ‘bursting on the scene.’ The energy, savvy, and posture of this engaging, big story simply demand attention. Po Bronson’s manic and relentless bond traders are a cornerstone to the American metaphor. His book is as large as life and will have its way."

Irving R. Levine, Chief Economics Correspondent, NBC: "After reading Po Bronson’s Bombardiers, I laughed all the way to the bank—to remove my bonds from the safe deposit box to cash them in! Anyone who cares about money won’t want to miss the wild ride with the Bombardiers."