What is a "Bestseller"?

Newspapers Living for Death

Homer_deathThanks to literary agent Matt Wagner for sending me this link to a story in the Sacramento Bee.  It sounds like the obit business is one of the few remaining areas the newspaper industry can still say it dominates.  Is that mostly because:

  1. Those primarily interested in scanning the obits every day are an older audience that's dying (duh!), the same older crowd that the newspaper business tends to cater to anyway (but is slowly dying off),
  2. Nobody has bothered to create an online knock-off to the obituary business because, well, it's not the sexiest business to launch and recruit talent for, or
  3. both 1 and 2.

My money is on #3. I also wouldn't be surprised to see an upstart chase after this market before too long.  It wouldn't take much to build a better mousetrap, one that's more dynamic with loads of photos and even video uploads of the deceased loved one, for example.  Friends and relatives could also upload their own favorite photos/videos, adding the next level of community involvement to the guestbook process.  There are plenty of ways to improve the existing model and I'm skeptical that the newspaper industry will be the ones to lead the innovation charge.


Michael A. Banks

I have seen a couple of obit services, and a tribute site.

We may see to see self-service obituaries at city/local newspaper Web sites soon. The Cincinnati Enquirer (and other Gannett papers, now or soon) offers self-publishing pages for community news. Have a look at the Cincinnati Enquirer's "Get Published!" pages, at
Hopefully, these things won't get overwhelmed by spam.

Joe Wikert

Hi Mike. That Enquirer service you point to is very nice. They could plug the back end of those services into their obits page and offer what I described in the original post. Given how simple and obvious those features are, don't you wonder why they haven't done so already?...

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