Category Archives: Publicity and Marketing

Doing It for Themselves: Libraries and E-books

Peter Brantley -- March 26th, 2012

Lurking in the midst of the discussions of libraries trying to obtain ebooks from publishers is  a larger issue concerning not just control over ebook ownership, but the control over the delivery platform. If libraries rely on Overdrive, for example, to supply them ebook lending services, they’ve outsourced a critical piece of library infrastructure to an outside party. While this strategy is commonplace for electronic journals and databases, it’s still new enough in digital books that it draws speculation about alternative models.

That’s why a recent announcement of Califa – a library cooperative serving the great majority of the public library systems in the State of California – is intriguing. (HT to Gary Price’s InfoDocket). Califa has decided to create and host its own ebook lending platform, much like the Douglas County Library system and the Internet Archive before it, using its own Adobe Content Server to protect the ebook files with DRM. Califa envisions a pay-to-play model in which its member library systems can utilize its ebook hosting and lending platform. Continue reading

How To: Marketing Books to Libraries

Peter Brantley -- March 20th, 2012

Last weekend I was invited to pull together a library panel at this year’s Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) meeting, the IBPA University, in downtown San Francisco. I quickly enlisted two of my favorite local library friends, Sarah Houghton (aka, the Librarian in Black) of the San Rafael Public Library, and K.G. Schneider (aka, the Free Range Librarian), of Holy Names University’s Cushing Library.

Our panel was “Marketing to Libraries” and amazingly, we had a packed room of engaged and attentive publishers in the first session of the morning. After introductions, I led off with a 10 minute explanation of the issues arising from agency pricing, and then we really got cracking. Questions from the audience on how publishers can better engage with libraries started rolling in even before we could say our opening piece, and they never stopped until we ran out of time.

This is one of the most lively panels I have ever been attended, and for its focus on how publishers can most effectively sell to libraries, I think it is unique. In addition to agency pricing, we cover how library lending works, how to get a library director’s attention, how to get your books noticed, and more.

Despite the difficulties of listening to a recorded open discussion, it’s pretty fun — and sometimes funny (particularly as I attempt to speak clearly with a deficit in both sleep and coffee).

The audio is freely available for streaming, and can also be separately purchased. Thanks to Florrie Binford Kichler, the President of the IBPA, for wrangling me in, and to @TheLiB and @KGS for a morning as bright as the sunny San Francisco day.

How Do You Piss Off Indie Booksellers? Send Them Promo Materials Featuring a Kindle.

Marc Schultz -- July 19th, 2011

Yesterday, Jill Hendrix, owner of Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC, opened a box of promotional material from Running Press to discover this poster, for forthcoming gift book Bent Object of My Affection by Terry Border. A quarter of the poster was taken up by an anthropomorphized (and apparently amorous) Kindle. “This is not something I’m going to hang up in my store,” Hendrix told PW.

Bent Object of My Affection is the second photo collection from Border, who adds limbs to inanimate objects using bent wire. “It feels a little bit like a kick in the face,” said Hendrix, that “one of the [images] they chose to use, on a poster that they’re paying to send out to independent bookstores, has a Kindle on it.”

Hendrix reported her displeasure on the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance listerv, where it first caught our attention. PW is still waiting to hear back from the Perseus imprint on the promotional faux pas.

Book Tie-In Videos: A ‘Declaration of Principles’

Mike Harvkey -- December 13th, 2010

While editing the online review of New York Times tech writer Nick Bilton’s first book, I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works (Crown Business), I came across this video tie-in on Amazon:

While I hate to be hateful and, like David Denby, try to resist the snark monster whenever possible, I do think that as we speed helplessly down this information autobahn, authors and publishers should start to adopt some basic aesthetic principles.

1. Readers don’t want information. David Mamet, paraphrasing Stanislavsky’s paraphrasing of Aristotle, said it well when he said, “The audience doesn’t want information, it wants drama.” Granted, he was talking about, um, drama. Dramatic mediums. Not all books are created to deliver conflict and drama to the reader in a tidy, handheld package. But what we talk about when we talk about tie-in videos is marketing, and marketing is the desperate attempt to capture the increasingly fickel attention of people with money in their pockets, and marketing executives, or the authors or small presses who can’t afford to hire them, need to adopt this basic truth of human existence. Adapted for our age, what readers want, arguably more than anything else, is to be entertained. Continue reading

The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- December 3rd, 2010

The paper of record has just released its “100 Notable Books of 2010.” It includes Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom (surprise!); Chang-Rae Lee’s The Surrendered (an incredible book that was a bit overlooked); Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies (which is currently buzzing like crazy); and Something Red by Jennifer Gilmore, among many others.

How many have you read?  Do you agree with most of their picks?  Did they leave off some of your favorites?  Did the include some books you think are clunkers?  Which ?  We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Successful Rap Music Label to Launch Book Imprint

Craig Morgan Teicher -- November 3rd, 2010

Ronald and Bryan Williams, the brothers who run the rap label Cash Money Records, are launching a books imprint called Cash Money Content, which will partner with the Atria imprint of Simon & Schuster for marketing and distribution support, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The brothers are quite confident that they can bring something new to the book biz, according to the article.  Here’s more from the WSJ:

We think we can do more, market books in a new way,” said Bryan “Birdman” Williams, the younger of the brothers, who is also a rap artist on their independent music label. “We want to put out five or six books a year.

The Williams brothers plan to use marketing strategies that have brought them success with music artists like Li’l Wayne, including selling books at concerts and throwing big parties to launch new titles.

The launch list, set to debut this Spring, includes Raw Law: An Urban Guide to Criminal Justice by lawyer Muhammad Ibn Bashir and Justify My Thug a novel by Wahida Clark.

Kobo’s Ami Greko Talks to PWxyz

Craig Morgan Teicher -- September 3rd, 2010

Ami Greko has worked at almost every kind of publicity and marketing job in publishing, and now she’s joined Kobo as senior manager of vendor relations (books).  PWxyz caught up with her to discuss her career, her new gig, and the changing publishing industry.

What was your first publishing job?

Well, there are really about three ways to answer this–for those of you with limited time, the short version is that for a girl from the Midwest, a path to a real, live New York City publishing job is a long one.

There was the fabulous indie bookstore job in Kalamazoo, MI, and after that closed, the Waldenbooks in the mall. I copyedited scientific journals in Boston for a while.

But I always think of my first publishing job as being a publicity assistant gig at Viking Penguin, which I got as a direct result of the Columbia Publishing Course.

What are your duties in your new role at Kobo?

I’m bringing new publishers on board to sell their titles, working with current publishers to make sure we’re selling as many of their titles as we can, and of course, general cheer-spreading about ebooks and the digital future. I’ll be out and about at a lot conferences and events, so I’m really looking forward to meeting a ton of new folks.

It’s going to be a lot of fun, and along the way there may even be some of those drinks with little plastic monkeys hanging from the rim.

Publishing has undergone lots of changes since you started, going digital, losing review space, suffering lots of layoffs.  How have those changes affected your work–obviously, your new job at Kobo is a direct result of those changes.
Continue reading

The Value of Negative Reviews

Rose Fox -- August 30th, 2010

Sarah Rees Brennan waxes eloquent (at some length) on being a writer who reviews and is reviewed.

Like any other person who reads a ton of books, I hate many, many books. Oh, how I hate them. I have performed dramatic readings of the books I hate. I have little hate summaries. I have hate impressions. I can act out, scene by hateful scene, some of these books. I can perform silent hate charades.

And in the past, I have reviewed a couple of books I hate. And then I would always feel crappy afterwards.

And I would wonder why. After all, I hated them! It was a public service to warn people off them!

This is why. One is that I am sort of terrible at reviewing things I hate. I am not reasonable about it. I do not add ‘Oh, but despite my loathing for the subject matter, the prose was excellent’ or ‘Still, the idea of a dragon in love with a tree is an intriguing one.’ And I feel that, especially since hate reviews are the most popular ones, because people love to see people hating on stuff, nobody is sure why but it is fascinating! – I feel it’s important to be able to write a hate review as close to objectively as you can, explaining why and wherefore, and not only getting your cruel mock on.

I get my cruel mock on. I’m not fair. And generally, I wish to be fair.

In the comments to Rees Brennan’s post, a pseudonymous commenter who self-identifies as a professional reviewer says, “I just don’t take anyone seriously who doesn’t occasionally pan a book, and I don’t bother with all-positive review sites. If someone only has something nice to say, then what they say is pretty meaningless, because I have no idea if they’re unable to admit not-liking something or if they don’t have critical faculties to decide whether the prose sucks (maybe they like sucky prose fine, some people do) or whatever.”

Continue reading

August 28 is Read A Comic in Public Day!

Calvin Reid -- August 26th, 2010

For those of you who may not know, this coming Saturday, August 28, is the first annual celebration of International Read A Comic in Public Day. So grab your favorite comic book or graphic novel—whatever nomenclature suits you—find a public spot; sit down where everybody can see you and read. IRCIPD was created by Brian Heater and Sarah Morean, editor-in-chief and mini-comics editor respectively, at the Daily Cross Hatch, an excellent blog focused on alternative and independent comics and contemporary comics culture.

The two decided to organize a day for the public display of comic book reading after acknowledging an anomalous dark secret among the comics intelligentsia—a lingering and much suppressed embarrassment at being seen reading comics in public! Yes, it’s true, despite our love for this medium, many of us are still secretly worried that if we’re seen reading a comic book, people will think we’re stupid or the hot chick will notice and move to the other side of the subway car. So they proposed a day to encourage all comic book lovers to come out of the closet and show some comic book reading pride.

They seem to have a struck a nerve. Comic book folks—artists, writers, retailers, librarians, publishers, editors and fans of all kinds—are organizing public meetups and planning events to read their comics in parks, bars or wherever and document the public reading event with a photograph. To help the organizing, Heater and Morean have set up a IRCIPD blog, there’s a Twitter Account (@comicsinpublic), Read A Comic in Public Facebook page, a Flickr page and there are posters for bookstores and for libraries. You can even send the organizers a Read A Comic In Public Day question at So come out on August 28, there’s no need to hide anymore. Happy Read A Comic In Public day!

Who Are the Most Accurately-Rated Writers In America?

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 13th, 2010

It’s Friday, so we thought we’d leave you with something light and fun to do over the weekend.  This week, we’ve had much talk at PWxyz about the most under- and overrated writers, subjects both sore and fun.  We came up with a cool and still-debated list of underrated writers.

But now here’s a more complicated question: who are the most accurately-rated living writers in America, the ones who deserve whatever reputation they have garnered, be it good or bad.  We’re talking about writers who, because they’re written good books and behave admirably, are generally admired, or who, because their books are bad and/or they act like jerks, are generally scorned.

Frankly, it’s hard to think of writers in this category, perhaps because literary reputations are made by over- or underrating.  But let’s try, and let’s not take it too seriously, and let’s have some fun.  Here’s one to start us off, and then it’s on to you in the comments:

  • Elizabeth Strout.  She won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge after writing two great books followed by a third that’s even better.  She’s also a lovely, accessible prose-stylist and by all accounts a nice person in the spotlight.