An Easy Promotion Idea

Josie Leavitt -- March 1st, 2011

Booksellers lament, quite frequently, about how publishers could do more to help the indies. We need more co-op money and more promotional efforts that actually work. While stickers and tattoos are lovely, sometimes we need something that helps the bottom line. I do not intend this post to be an ad for Penguin, but they’ve come up with a program that works for booksellers and the publisher.

Penguin has started a great new program called the Penguin Dozen. This is a program that runs for a full year, starting March 1st. Bookstores that sign up commit to buying 20 books a month of the featured picture book character. When I first heard of the program I thought, great, 20 books a month I don’t need. But then I read the promo materials again. We’re talking The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Winnie the Pooh, Skippyjon Jones, Ladybug Girl, Spot, Llama Llama, Madeline and more.

These are books I sell anyway and they’re good books.  Now, this is  a promotion I can get behind. I order 20 books (they can be paperback), and set up a display in the picture book section featuring the character’s books. The great thing about this promo is it just reminds me to keep my backlist current with these characters. I’m not ordering 20 books I don’t need, and this is why this will work for me. To keep the promo fun there is a dedicated website for the Penguin Dozen. Each character has his or her own page full of activity sheets, fun ideas for parents and children to do together. My sales rep, Nicole Davies, has forwarded a year-long backlist order form with ISBNs, titles and price. Really, this couldn’t be easier. And that’s why it works.

– I don’t have to do any paperwork. This is huge. I emailed my rep and she took care of the details. I was even reminded of the two backlist deals that I could take advantage of to save even more money on this promo. So, I cut and pasted ISBNs and ordered books I was embarrassingly out of, saved money, and fulfilled my monthly obligation for eight months of the Penguin Dozen all the while saving money doing ti.

– I want these books. And often, there’s a new title coming out, so I’m likely to need backlist to help sell the new title.

– Part of the plan gets me two free costume rentals. This is an enormous savings of big shipping costs. While the costumes usually can be rented free, the shipping for the oversized package can set you back a couple hundred.

– Planning a year ahead makes me a better bookseller. Our 15th anniversary is coming up in September and having some character events is a great way to kick off the fun.

– It’s easy. I cannot stress this enough. This is as good as picking up an extra 3% discount when I order 5 copies of a book I know I’ll sell. Easy co-op works really well.

– My sales rep is doing all the work. I know this sounds selfish, but all I’ve had to do is make an order, and that’s fun. Oh, and I had to make a phone call about reserving the costumes. I think I can handle that level of busyness.

– Other publishers are making co-op easier, and that is so appreciated.  I believe that the easier co-op gets, the more we’ll order and ultimately sell. And that’s good for everyone’s bottom line.

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