book marketing


book marketing
   Sophisticated forms of book marketing are a relatively recent phenomenon. The prevailing notion of publishing as a gentlemanly profession, in which the love of literature was more important than profit, and the widespread belief that books were all distinct products and therefore unmarke-table anyway, contributed to the half-hearted and generally inefficient nature of book marketing up until the 1980s. However, book marketing has grown in significance in recent years, largely as a consequence of the increasing consolidation of the industry into the hands of commercially minded conglomerates. Book marketing can be divided into direct and indirect forms. Direct forms are centred on books themselves and include paid advertising in mass media such as magazines, newspapers and television, special displays (or ‘dump bins’) in bookshops, and dustjacket blurbs and endorsements. More indirect forms of marketing are generally less expensive and are centred around arranging interviews for the author in the media, and appearances at bookshop signings or at literary festivals such as the annual events at Hay-on-Wye and Cheltenham. In some cases, the size of book contracts—like the seven-figure advance received by first-time author Nicholas Evans for The Horse Whisperer in 1995— can even be used as a source of free press publicity for the author. However, the most effective indirect form of book marketing remains the attempt to ensure that books are reviewed in the media, and publishers make strenuous attempts to do this by sending out proof copies and lobbying influential literary editors through networking. Since publishers generally only make serious efforts to publicize a small percentage of their list, and the gap between the so-called ‘leads’ and the ‘midlist’ is becoming wider, some observers have complained that the book industry is wielding a disproportionate influence in determining which books receive media attention.
   The rise of major book chains like Waterstones and Dillons has recently added another major player to the area of book marketing, through their instigation of ‘Books of the Month’ and in-house magazines. Major publishers have also begun to create interactive bookstores on commercial online services such as Compuserve and Delphi or on the World Wide Web, through which readers can order copies either on-line or by telephone. It is anticipated that these bookstores will account for a significant proportion of the market in the future.
   See also: publishing trends
   Further reading
    Baverstock, A. (1993) Are Books Different? Marketing in the Book Trade, London: Kogan Page.
   JOE MORAN

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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