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From Alternative Medicine a Definitive Guide to the Wellness Inventory - An Interview with Pioneering Entrepreneur Jim Strohecker

© John Weeks

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrator Blog by John Weeks . View all columns in series

"Our first step, once the books
arrived from the printer, was to
hand deliver a copy of the book
to all 535 members of Congress."

Our next step was to devise our own conventional and guerilla marketing strategy to get it in front of as many consumers, health practitioners, media, and lawmakers as possible with our 6 pound hardcover book retailing at $59.95 and taking on the established order. Our first step, once the books arrived from the printer, was to hand deliver a copy of the book to all 535 members of Congress. The book was very well received by the public, health practitioners and surprisingly, the press, starting with a glowing article about the book in the Washington Post. Soon the book was in Costco, Sams, and bookstores nationwide, and was being sold in the office of health practitioners through a special program and an infomercial. Many consumers and practitioners felt validated by something they could show to the friends, family or peers to show that there was some real substance to the “fringe” healthcare practices they were engaging in.

The most compelling event during this time involved the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. I was approached by one of the museum’s directors, who wanted to feature Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide in an exhibit named, “Immigrant Health Traditions.” In many ways, alternative medicine was largely synonymous with the forms of traditional medicine brought to the US by immigrants. We discussed how homeopathy, naturopathy, water therapy, herbal medicine, had come to the US via European immigrants, acupuncture and Ayurveda from China and India.

"Many consumers and practitioners
felt validated by something they could
show to the friends, family or peers,
that there was some real substance to
the “fringe” healthcare practices
they were engaging in."

Our book was featured on a large bookstand in a central location in the exhibit. The exhibit proved to be the most popular exhibit in recent memory. All was going well. Then one day I received a phone call from the museum’s director. A well-known “quackbuster,” Dr. Victor Herbert, heard about the display and went to see for himself. He wrote an angry letter to the Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument demanding that the government should not been seen as promoting a book about unorthodox and potentially dangerous health practices, and that the book should be immediately removed from the exhibit. The Superintendent acquiesced and told the museum that the book must be removed.

We received a copy of Dr. Herbert’s letter through the Freedom of Information Act and began a campaign to overturn the Superintendent’s decision. We received considerable media coverage including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal spoke of “bookburning” and 1st amendment issues. Of course, Dr. Herbert’s and the government’s actions only increased the popularity and buzz about the book.

To date, Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, which I affectionately refer to as “the 6 pound doorstop”, has sold over 600,000 copies.

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About The Author
Resumes are useful in employment decisions. I provide this background so that you may understand what informs the work which you may employ in your own. I have been involved as an organizer-writer in the emerging fields of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine since 1983. Happily, I have learned some things. I was once called an "expert in alternative medicine" by......more
 
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