Long gone are the days of video cassettes, nerf guns and a good old walkman. What seemed to be impossibly genius technological inventions at the time are nothing more than a picture in the digital photo album. Along with technological advancements in all professional paths, the world of mass media has perhaps been influenced the most. From sound recordings to the television, equipment and methods have transformed and adapted to rapidly changing times. One such adaptation comes in the form of printed mass media, also known as books. The “For Dummies” series are the modern reference books or encyclopedias which have become a popular media franchise and are impacting the entire world in excellent ways. However, in order to understand why some mass media components are more successful than others, the product has to be studied from all angles.
The basic element to the start of any successful product is an amazing idea. In some cases, even if the idea is not new nor phenomenal, the product can still achieve success and credibility if designed and presented in the right manner. To be specific, every major mass media product must have a logo and a motto that makes it stand out and eventually becomes the identity by which it is remembered. In the case of the “For Dummies” books, their trademarks include a black and white cartoon figure known as the Dummies Man, the title of the book written in a chalkboard style and the bright yellow color of the cover. Moreover, the planning for this product was not limited to the front cover design. On the contrary, each page of the “For Dummies” series has been systematically thought out and brought to the table, thus providing such success in the mass media world (For Dummies).
The entire purpose behind the “For Dummies” series is to meet an essential need of the customer in ways that can easily connect them to the product and keep them attracted or coming back for more. One of the essential elements behind achieving this purpose is the simple language and formatting of the written material. The language used is very simple and can be understood by the layman. Symbolism such as a string tied around the index finger, is greatly used in the margins to point out important details instead of the typical underlining or bolding technique. Another great tool used in these series which separates them from any other reference book is the concept of lists and notes. Delivering a 300 word message in a mere 30 words is what these books are known for (For Dummies).
When pondering about subjects that are quite difficult to comprehend without particular training or expertise, specifically the math and science fields, many people have always found it difficult to find exceptional teachers or teaching materials. That is why when that one professor or tutor who comes along and breaks traditional teaching methods by adding creativity and much needed simplicity to a rather difficult notion to understand, he or she instantly brings about permanent change and moves the world closer to innovation. One such man was Dan Gookin who published the first book in the “For Dummies” series in 1991. Gookin’s book was called DOS for Dummies. DOS or Disk Operating System is a computer operating system which uses the command line (Rouse). Even though the subject might be a bit dry for the average person, the title caught people’s attention. For the first time, even a mediocre student thought that he might have found an easy way to understand a new or complicated topic.
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This is how one of the greatest merchandise of mass media was born. Focusing on computers and technological issues, the series soon experimented with and was successful in covering a wide array of topics in all categories. Soon enough, the “For Dummies” books became the preferred reference guides and tutors. Today, there are countless topics covered by this series such as Homeschooling for Dummies, Chess for Dummies, and Writing for Dummies. In fact, the “For Dummies” books are so successful that they have been translated into many languages worldwide and continue to win best-seller prizes. Ironically, there is even a “For Dummies” book which teaches one on how to use a “For Dummies” book- know as Dummies 101(For Dummies).
In a world with staunch competition in the mass media field, printed books are required to be able to keep up with the electronic venues in order to be considered truly valuable, useful and something with the power to innovate and bring positive change in people’s lives. This is why the next step in the marketing process was to make the “For Dummies” series available online. Therefore, there are many online copies available along with the luxury of the printed books being able to be sold and shipped to individuals all around the globe. These bright yellow books are not only convenient but they have truly given people a great learning tool with which to change their lives. The simplicity of the language and the short length from cover to cover saves the reader substantial time and gets the task done quickly. The best word for describing the “For Dummies” series is “wise” (Ennico).
Another reason why the “For Dummies” series gained such high success very quickly is because of the fact that this innovation created many jobs and helped professionals thrive in their respective fields. Statistics show that there are more than 2500 titles in the series. This not only requires the author but also needs graphic designers for layouts, more than one expert on the given topic, editors, proofreaders and translators. In the mass media industry, the product that creates jobs and sustains them will sure to not only achieve success but also to retain it. The “For Dummies” series did more than this by not only targeting the local community but reaching out to and incorporating the global family under one magic idea. The series has become a cultural symbol of education and continues to grow as more and more subjects are explored (Cousens).
After assessing the background and current status of this mass media product, I firmly believe that the “For Dummies” books will not go downhill from here. It is an uphill journey of success for eternity. The reason I state such a powerful and sure claim is because these series have brought about a revolution unlike any other. The series has enhanced the levels of curiosity and the thirst for gaining knowledge that makes life more meaningful and practical. People are no longer forced to pay large sums of money to not only fulfill their essential educational requirements with excellence but to also experience countless extra curricular activities without having to pay an arm and a leg. For a reasonable price of a book, people are able to take any “courses” they want. There will always be a need and desire for people to improve themselves through education and mass media will always be their preferred medium. Therefore, since the “For Dummies” series will always be in demand, they will not be facing financial, cultural or technological failures.
Of course, there is always room for improvement with any genius invention or business. In the case of the “For Dummies” series, the improvement can come with developing a series exclusively for children which would filter out the useless knowledge children have to learn for the sake of going to school. This would not only improve the international curricula but also advance education like never before, opening doors to unlimited possibilities. Furthermore, since the motto of the series is “making everything easier,” it will become an essential part of the modern millennial’s life, which is more than often rushed and complicated. The “For Dummies” series are a life-changing invention and cannot be applauded enough. They will always be hand in hand with electronic mass media as their benefit to society greatly outweighs their glitches.