"Oh no! They're talking their books!"

Will you stop already?  Of course everyone’s talking their book, 24/7.

I heard some snide comments made a week ago about the fact that Ackman, Einhorn, Icahn, Chanos, et al were “only at the Ira Sohn Conference to talk their books”.  Duh.  What else should they talk about, someone else’s book?  And you do understand that they are there to raise money for charity – that any one of them could just call a TV producer at any time and get an even bigger audience anytime they’d like?

We all need to collectively get over the fact that people are talking their books when in the public eye.  This isn’t a new phenomenon, the Roman Emperors would arrange for three day triumphs to be held citywide upon their return from military campaigns, even for the losing battles which would be spun as “strategic” victories.  The mating calls of birds are booktalks (yo baby, check out my nest-building skillz) , so are the male peacock’s feathers (green and purple, how you like me now?).  Just about every high holiday in every religion on earth is really just the clergy talking their books.  The more they deny it, the more they’re doing it right before your eye – the penitence and humble posturing just a clever way of demonstrating moral superiority and the certainty of their righteousness.

There’s nothing wrong with talking one’s book.  Tadas Viskanta at Abnormal Returns has written a lot about the subject but this is my foray into it.  Here’s what I want you to come away with:

1.  Let’s not pretend for even a second that investment managers are the only people in society that talk their books.

2. This is preferable to a situation where no one talks their book but everyone pretends they got it right after the fact.

3.  I’d rather see people tout the ideas they’re invested in than just tout things they want to sell to someone else, wouldn’t you?

When you’re up late at night, flipping through the broadcast channels, you see two things typically – late night talk shows and infomercials.  One is all lame, lowest-common-denominator jokes followed by celebs talking their projects up (the equivalent of a hedgie discussing his positions).  The other is trash made in China that someone with an 800 number and a PO box can’t wait to unload on you.  Which is preferable?  Going to sleep and turning off the TV?  I knew you’d say that!  But if given the choice, yes the celebrity is selling you their movie or TV show, but at least they believe in their work.

You didn’t think Kyra Sedgwick was sitting on Jay Leno’s couch engaging in moronic banter with him because she “wants to let you into her world”, did you?  No, she’s on at 11 o’clock at night so that you’ll watch the season premiere of The Closer on TNT this summer, whatever that is.  But there is some sincerity going on with her appearance; she is talking her book but presumably she believes that it is a good book and one you’ll like.  And if not, well, where exactly was the gun to your head?

And what do you think Facebook is?  Hundreds of millions of people “talking their books” with status updates and pictures of vacations to show their exes what they’re missing and stay competitive versus the lives of their friends and neighbors.  There’s no “sharing” going on, nobody gives a f***!  As long as you don’t have something better going on than they do – in which case this means war! Let the baby photo upload-a-thon commence!

You talk your book, so do I and so will the next guy you see in front of an audience.  People are out there earning a living.  Each day the sun comes up and the kids don’t remember that they had dinner last night, they only know that they need to eat breakfast today.

Deal with it.

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