The Threadbone Corporation's recent acquisition of the Opportunistic Press Group in a lockdown fire sale seems likely to result in a speedy return to profitability for the once innovative self-help publishers whose "... for Dummies" series used to be the talk of the town amongst chronically low-skilled but upwardly mobile 30 somethings. Now managed and backed by the almost unlimited resources of Dorset's largest publisher - the Threadbone Press - the iconic imprint is readying itself for a flurry of new OPG-badged titles designed to make life more tolerable in a CONTRIK-69 and, at some point in the very distant future, a post CONTRIK-69-ravaged world.
It was a big surprise to all observers in 2020 when the normally fleet of foot "new kid on the block" [the OPG was founded in 2000] got into serious financial trouble, after failing, ironically, to take advantage of the opportunities presented to the trade by the absence or outlawing of all forms of unlicensed private entertainment and diversion, save home-reading. Recent reports suggest that socially-distanced reading remains a multi-million pound business, despite the fact that literacy amongst the under 40s has dropped to 12% and that, according to surveys, the habit of book-buying is, for the vast majority of people, a "Christmas and occasional birthday thing if I can't think of anything else better".
OPG titles, however, do not seem to have ridden this general wave, whilst sales are also said to have suffered following accusations by some critics, that the company did not cash in on the growing popularity of e-publishing - an online facility which allows readers to browse especially encoded digital versions of physical volumes whilst driving pointlessly at high speed around European town centres in so-called Formula-E cars*
* Some confusion here I think. Not sure the "e" is the same in each case and in any event how the hell are they related? Speak to Murray for God's sake - he's the motor racing fan, though he knows f**k all about books. Do I have to think of everything? [Ed].
Born in an era of optimism when education was still thought to be a pathway to a career, the Opportunistic Press Group's founders and proprietors - Tom Main and Jeff Chance - discovered a popular self-help formula which simply worked. A blend of Do-It-Yourself Manual, Beginners Guide and print-based Night-School Class, ... "for Dummies" titles sold consistently well and were said to be approved texts in some quarters, studied both by individual learners and larger scale therapy groups - particularly, the RDC's crack home espionage team have said, by anarchist and psychotic self-help group looking for practical tips. Admittedly some educationalists were critical of what they saw as the publisher's willingness to lead the vulnerable and the ambitious [and sometimes both] down potentially dangerous paths - Brain Surgery for Dummies, Nuclear Fission for Dummies and Mass Vaccination for Dummies - often being cited in evidence. However, publishing expert Rem Aynder-Binne, says there is little concrete proof that harm was done, "bar a startling rise in botched operations, radio-active incidents and intra-veinous drug abuse around about the time of their publication".
The new Threadbone Press-initiated titles are unlikely to try to emulate the hieratic ambitions of those earlier books, says Ms Aynder-Binns. "I think they are more likely to deal with the practical difficulties people are facing under statutory house arrest and how, on release, to overcome things like AJPWD [Acute Jigsaw Puzzle Withdrawal Disorder] as well as severe Stockholm Syndrome after being cooped up with family jailers. They say it's mercifully rare, but some people do actually get almost to like their relatives - or at the very least form some kind of weird bond with them - apparently]".
"In any event, the market will be watching - particularly as the emphasis shifts from coping with the present to adapting to the future - always assuming, of course, that there is one", she added.