Over the past 141 years there have been a lot of good and sometimes not so good tennis books written, and I've had the pleasure of reading and purchasing many of them.
Instructional books, biographies, history, books on stats and records, singles and doubles strategy, the mental game, magazines that cover and record everything, some that are funny, quotes, pictorials, special events ... A through Z has and will continue to be covered and written about.
What makes a book - especially a tennis book - worth reading?
An interesting cover, the title, good PR from the author, how the inside cover reads, word of mouth - probably a little of each.
So, what hasn't been written yet that might grab the attention of quite a few tennis players?
How about one of those small books that are very simple with instruction and maybe rules that can be kept in your tennis bag? You can refer quickly on how to run a tie-break, which can be very confusing, see a checklist or bullet points on serving, your forehand or a volley. Brief and concise.
Yes, something like that might sell as a stocking stuffer for Christmas, an inexpensive birthday present, Fathers or Mothers Day gift, or an impulse buy.
How about a history of tennis from state to state?
For instance, Arizona.
Where was the first tennis played? The first club built, and who nurtured and brought it to each city and town? What happened to those first facilities and the progression to present? The records of each high school and their teams from conception, and with pictures to grab your attention?
That could be interesting, and if you have a relative mentioned, a picture of the past you like, a reference to a club or high school/college you belonged to, that just might fly as a book, not that the general public would purchase, but a limited number for sure.
I guess the question boils down to how much work and how much cost is involved in making the endeavor worthwhile. Although many books have been published as an emotional passion, and certainly a financial bath must have taken place.
Can you twist a column into a book?
Take the past 22 years and compile all the columns written and see if there's a market? You could, but that would be a really limited market unless you were super controversial.
There were quite a few instructional tennis books written before "The Inner Game of Tennis" and "Tennis for the Future" came to be in the 70s, but they both found good outlets and had darnn good sales.
Sometimes the market is ripe for such. Write something good during a tennis boom and you could sell hundreds of thousands of books.
Agassi's and Connor's bios did well the past couple years. If Roger Federer ever writes a tell-all, most every tennis player in the world will want to read it. You never hear anything juicy about Federer, but there must be something we'd like to know but don't.
Maybe it doesn't have to be a new thought or a new angle - more like a car, a new model with curb appeal. What's the latest catchword or phrase? Let's use that and see who we can pull in. "Winning Ugly." What a great title by Brad Gilbert. Most of us play the game of tennis a bit ugly and still want to win. It was a must read.
If any of you have ideas in this vein, please let me know. Maybe we can get famous for 15 minutes and make a small fortune at the same time.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-642-6775.