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Authors, Be Like Batman. Why "Only in Theaters" still works (and how this applies to books)

The Batman could've opened exclusively on HBO Max. Would've been an effective way to generate new streaming subscriptions.

But they chose to open "only in theaters." Because it's Batman. And Batman's meant to be on as big of a screen as possible with buttery popcorn and Junior Mints and $18 sodas.

So, would people still go out and see it? Oh yeah. In droves. The Batman is nearing a $700 million worldwide box office.

For whatever reason -- probably because we tie everything back to authors and books -- this story got us thinking about -- you guessed it -- authors and the different ways to release a new book.

The easiest way

Don't even make it a physical book. Go "straight to Kindle." Sell it as an eBook on Amazon.

And while we like the eBook option for shorter works (under 100 pages), there's something about holding a physical book in your hands, especially when you've worked on your story for a really long time. You don't hear many stories about authors crying when they finally saw the PDF version on their phone or the digital copy on a Kindle.

But holding a physical book with your name on the cover? That's a powerful experience.

To be fair, Amazon also makes it easy to publish physical books. They handle the shipping. You won't know who's buying your book (unless they text you/email you directly), but you don't have to handle the logistics. Again, it's a really easy option.

But it lacks that big event feel

What if, instead of putting your book on Amazon (or before you put it on Amazon) you start with an "Only in Theaters" type of release. Meaning: the only way to pick up one of the first 100 copies of your book is on this date at this launch party hosted at this local bookstore, bar, coffee shop, wherever. Or directly from you. Maybe it comes in a box with a custom bookmark or a map from the story. Throw in some exclusive stapled chapters from other works in progress. Personalize the experience.

Batman streamed on a TV screen, at home, with the lights on, scrolling through the phone, and pausing to take the dog out doesn't feel as epic as that trip to the IMAX.

Likewise, you've put a lot of blood/sweat/tears into your book. First, reward yourself by making it a physical book. And then throw a party. Invite people. Make it a big deal.

You can always put your book on Amazon later. Why not give those first 20, 50, 100 readers a great experience to kick things off and create a memory you'll always cherish.

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