I’ve previously argued that you usually need extensive educational credentials just to get an interview for anything more than a low-status job. It strikes me that there is a similar problem if you have a new product and want to get “real” stores to carry it. For example, it took a long time for my book to get into brick-and-mortar stores, and I couldn’t think of viable ways to change their minds. But imagine my situation if my book had been self-published! At least with Princeton as my publisher, I could ask them to push the book harder to Borders.

So imagine this hypothetical. Suppose you have a genuinely new and improved t.v. which would be profitable to manufacture if you had a serious order from Best Buy. What could you do to get Best Buy to start carrying it? How would you even get Best Buy’s buyer to take your calls? Could statistical discrimination (most people like you are too useless even to talk to) keep a good idea off the market for good?

P.S. A reader alerted me to the unconventional strategy of “shopdropping“:

Self-published authors sneak their works into the “new releases” section, while personal trainers put their business cards into weight-loss books, and aspiring professional photographers make homemade cards — their Web site address included, of course — and covertly plant them into stationery-store racks.

“Everyone else is pushing their product, so why shouldn’t we?” said Jeff Eyrich, a producer for several independent bands, who puts stacks of his bands’ CDs — marked “free” — on music racks at Starbucks whenever the cashiers look away.

Pretty sleazy, but it is a strategy. 🙂