Inspirational Business Writing Hits A New Low with Studies in Crap and Pro-Sumer Power!

Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Pro-Sumer Power! How to Create Wealth by Spending Smarter, Not Cheaper

Author: Bill Quain, PhD

Publisher: INTI Publishing & Resource Books, Tampa, Florida

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Date: 2000

Discovered at: Thrift store

The Cover Promises: Back before the tech bubble burst, all you had to do to get rich was just wave your Visa in front of a computer.

Representative Quote: "The word pro-sumer is a combination of the words producer and consumer. Producers make money. Consumers spend money. Pro-sumers make money while they spend." (page 9).

In all of Pro-Sumer Power!, the first book I've ever wanted to punch in the crotch, there is but one flicker of genuine inspiration, and that's right there in the title. Apparently, we're now free to swap prefixes and root-words as we please. After pro-suming, who's up for a ride on a circum-cycle with an para-hobo?

Other than that, this merely demonstrates how insulting the you-deserve-wealth-because-you're-special genre has come to be. More full of nothing than the deepest reaches of space, Pro-Sumer Power! disguises its emptiness behind asinine parables, laughable charts, self-help lies, a story about Lassie, a discussion of iMac commercials, and countless exclamations of the beauty of an idea it never gets around to defining.

"I call it 'pro-suming.' And it's a proven way whereby you can produce and consume at the same time! No, that wasn't a misprint. Just to make sure your eyes aren't playing tricks on you, I'll write that statement in all capital letters:

In all 108 pages, Quain never explains how someone can produce and consume at the same time. (I think it has something to do with eating on the toilet.)


Instead, Quain strings along the gullible by doling out one bit of pro-sumer philosophy for every ten interruptions. He'll loosely introduce a concept, explaining that even purchasing discounted goods isn't good enough for a pro-sumer since "You can't 'save' money by consuming, because money is going out, not coming in." Then, instead of elaborating, he'll quote a Family Circus or ask "Do you want to be the gorilla or the banana?"

The gorilla question deserves exploration. Quain writes,

"The simple truth is that consumers are the bananas and the stores are the gorillas. Gorillas need bananas to survive. So the gorillas come up with all kinds of tricks and schemes (they call it marketing) to attract more bananas. Offering deep discounts is their favorite 'trick.' And the bananas fall for it every time. They line up and get eaten by the gorillas, who get fatter and fatter and happier and happier."

This raises some concerns.

  1. What stores eat their customers?

  2. What do gorillas have that bananas want?

  3. How exactly does one market to bananas?

  4. Can gorillas produce and consume at the same time?

In chapter two, Quain instructs us to "THINK DIFFERENT" and solve this maze:

prosumermaze 001.jpg

(This is meant to illustrate how we should THINK DIFFERENT, but the answer - go around - is marked right there on the maze itself.)

Also, nobody's ever lost money on the internet!

To recap:


  • Cleverly circumvent obstacles by following a path someone has marked for you.

  • Never spend your money because by spending it you have less money not to spend.

  • Pad your note card's worth of ideas out into a full book by any means necessary.

Shocking Detail:

Thirty-seven pages before the end, Quain is still trying to sell you this book:

"What if I could show you a way to have your cake and eat it too? A way not only to 'save' money, but to earn money, while you save time? Would that be a revolutionary concept worth learning about?"

Then, just one page away, comes something of an answer. Turns out that pro-sumers practice something "e-ferral" commerce, which Quain defines as "a combination of a 50 year-old proven industry called Referral Commerce, combined with the speed and efficiency of e-commerce."

Eight pages, two anecdotes, and a description of a Mercedes commercial later, he makes his pitch: referrals, exponential growth, gulling your friends into buying vitamin supplements-- ah, shit, this is Amway!

[Your Crap Archivist shakes his fist.]

Actually, it's Quixtar, the multi-level marketing company that stopped calling itself Amway right around the time the Feds started levying fines. (Here's a Dateline report on Quixtar.)

Quain champions the Quixtar model without once mentioning the company by name, but he once write a book called The Quixtar Price is Right - a volume conspicuously absent from his Pro-Sumer Power! bio. Think of it this way: The Quixtar Price is Right is his Dianetics; Pro-Sumer Power is his Battlefield Earth. It's on the reading lists, it's given out by recruiters, and it's reprehensibly stupid, but it can almost pass as secular.

Also, your Crap archivist encourages you to click here, on WFMU's fantastic 365 Days Project, to hear Pat Boone shill for Amway.


If you drag your cursor over the "Products" tab of Dr. Quain's web-site, a drop-down menu offers a link to a book tiled Overcoming Time Proverty.

Proverty? Is that a pro-sumeresque combination of the words producer and poverty? Could there be a better formulation to describe the poor saps who have wasted their time and savings on Quixtar based on the advice of shills like Dr. Quain?

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a mere type-o. A type-o that tells us nothing.

Unless . . . you THINK DIFFERENT!

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