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Friday, August 28, 2015

Fun, Educational Items From Smithsonian Are Great For Kids


I recently received some excellent educational items from Smithsonian.  One was Young Explorers 50 States Fact Book & Floor Puzzle – a fun way to learn geography and appreciate historical tidbits about each state.  For instance,, on The Empire State, my home of New York, you learn the state’s flower is the rose and the state bird is the Eastern Bluebird. I guess naming a Pidgeon as your state bird wouldn’t look good.  Some famous New York-born greats include Norman Rockwell, FDR, and Jonas Salk.

Smithsonian Sticker Creations:Dinosaurs was fun for my seven-year-old daughter.  She created her own framed play scene with the use of five deluxe 3-D stickers.  175 reusable stickers is just what she needed.  A similar package, Under The Sea, also gave her hours of enjoyment.

There was some amazing photography, coupled with interesting facts, contained in a binder book, Smithsonian Discover: Earth, which filled my 10-year-old son’s brain with information on disasters, including wildfires, landslides, hurricanes, lightning strikes, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.

But my favorite thing was a nicely packaged box set of oversized, fact-filled cards called Smithsonian Everything You Need To Know.  It was for 2nd and 3rd-graders.  The 275 cards covered history, animals, outer space, dinosaurs, geography, human body, and US presidents.  The facts about presidents was very interesting.

I didn’t know that James Madison, the smallest American president, was all of 100 pounds and stood just five-foot-four.  But the weirdest factoid was that three of the first five US presidents died on the Fourth of July, and two – Jefferson and John Adams – died exactly on the same day – on our nation’s 50th birthday, July 4, 1826.  That would make a good book.  Was foul play involved – maybe suicide or murder?

Did you know it wasn’t until our eighth president, Martin Van Buren, that we had the first American-born citizen to be president?

Did you realize one president – William Harrison – only served 32 days – and was the first president to die in office?

Here’s something not spoken of often: Andrew Jackson was born into poverty and couldn’t read or write until his wife taught him how. This was another interestig fact contained in this package.

For summer fun – and a way to make learning outside the classroom appealing – these materials from Smithsonian are worth obtaining.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Sales Are Rising, Led By Audiobooks



Bookstore sales rose 3.9% in the second quarter of the year – a nice healthy jump in the right direction.  In the first quarter, according to the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales were down 2.5% - now accounting for 30% of all book sales.

This is good news on a number of levels.  First, overall, book sales are increasing.  Second, bookstore sales are growing.  Third, print books are holding their own and took back some of the ground they lost over the past half-dozen years to e-books.  The industry needs print books to succeed.  Stores do too.  And, whether consumers realize it or not, they benefit from all of this as well.

You know what else is rising?  Audiobooks.

By big numbers.

Audiobook units sold increased, the number of titles for sale in audio increased, and the revenue increased by 19.5% this past year.  That’s huge.  Even though audiobooks only make up a sliver of the marketplace, they are poised for growth.  In a digital download world, audiobooks fit in with our lifestyle and device-driven culture.

Who listens to audiobooks?


·         Readers who want to experience a book on a different level
·         Youth who read the book while listening to it
·         Those commuting by car, train, or plane
·         People doing chores – cooking, gardening, cleaning
·         Exercisers who don’t want music or the news in their ears
·         Vacationers and beach-goers
·         Those with visual impairment
·         People who have not mastered literacy

Audiobooks can enhance the learning process for kids and teens today.  Take a look at www.soundlearningapa.org to learn the facts.

Five years ago, some 6,000 new audiobook titles were released.  It’s quadrupled in growth, now at 25,000 annual titles and expanding quickly.

I have some fond memories of audiobooks.  For one, I met my wife at an audiobook launch party at Book Expo.  She was the marketing manager for Random House Audio at the time. For another, my son, then just six, listened to all of Marley & Me, and learned about the cycle of life and dogs.  My daughter, at around age 5 or 6, listened to the folk song, Blowing in the Wind while reading an illustrated book with the same words.

Books are growing, especially audiobooks.  Add to the trend and let me know if you’ve heard a good book lately.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Don’t Say This To The Media When Promoting A Book



You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, or so it’s been said.  This is certainly true with the news media.  Here are things you should avoid saying to the news media when promoting your book:

1.      “It received just a few bad reviews.”
2.      “My book may have a few typos, so please excuse them.”
3.      “I edited the book myself.”
4.      “The book was published two years ago but since no one bought it I changed the title and cover and just re-released it.”
5.      “This book is good, but my next book is even better.”
6.      “Everyone should want to read my book.”
7.      “I’ve never spoken to the media before.”
8.      “My book doesn’t have great distribution.”
9.      “If I had more time, the book could have been even better.”
10.  “Sorry the book is so long.  I didn’t quite know how to end it.”

Don’t ask questions like these:

1.      “Can I approve of the story before it’s published?”
2.      “Don’t quote me on that, okay?”
3.      “Is this off the record,” after you spoke without setting such a condition.
4.      “Can you make what I just said sound better?”
5.      “So, what do you think of my book?”

All of this may seem like common sense, but what happens when authors communicate with the media is they either get nervous and confess their insecurities and weaknesses, or they get relaxed and think a gentle reporter is a friend with whom they can share anything.

Authors need to operate under these guidelines:

1.      Don’t volunteer negative information.
2.      Don’t raise a topic that could lead to something embarrassing.
3.      Don’t come off sounding egotistical.
4.      Don’t be so shy that the journalist doesn’t hear anything worthy to report on.
5.      Think like the person interviewing you.  Ask yourself what needs he or she has and what could be said to impress the reporter.
6.      Always assume everything is on the record.
7.      Learn more about the reporter or media outlet prior to the interview so that you can speak in a way that appeals to the reporter’s needs, preferences, or readership/viewership/listenership demographics.

The media understands that most authors aren’t media trained, and even those that are could still be prone to a misstep. The media can be forgiving or overlook somethings but be on high alert, especially when your book is controversial.  The media may just want to trap you or highlight a negative.  

Follow the above guidelines and you should be fine.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Have You Read A Short Story Book?



I must confess that I don’t read poetry or short story books often. Btu when I do expose myself to these unique forms, I always feel impressed with how authors can be creative while operating under certain parameters.

One such book comes from a client of the book publicity firm that I work for.  This collection of 20 short stories, The Book Of Names, is very good.  The stories, ranging from two to 26 pages each, find a way to engage the reader from the first sentence.  Even when the stories seem complete you still can see how many of them could be developed into full-length novels.

It makes me wonder why we don’t see more short story books.  It would make sense that we have a lot of these books, given how society is. We are on the run all the time.  We have commutes to work and we have short attention spans.  Reading a five- or 20-page story would fill in the gaps with ease.

Writing short stories requires as much talent – if not more – to write long-length novels. You need to develop context, the characters, and plot fairly quickly while being descriptive and mysterious enough to engage the reader’s curiosity and concern.

There aren’t as many awards out there for the short story format as there are full novels. There’s a need to honor and celebrate short stories and to publicize these works.  The short story book could be a way to introduce a writer to the public, showcasing a dozen or more stories and topics.  

Will you read a short story book today?

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Authors Can Sell Out Concerts Like The Beatles


A half-century ago history was made when a young British rock group invaded America and sold out the first large-scale sports stadium concert in the country. The Beatles, now a legendary group that has set many records while making many records, performed on August 15, 1965 at New York City’s Shea Stadium, home to the New York Mets. I write about this not because I love the Beatles, though they certainly were a great band, but because the event’s anniversary should remind us that book publishing can launch its rock stars before large venues too.

Okay, so most authors couldn’t fill a McDonald’s parking lot, but certainly some could scale beyond a bookstore signing, library appearance, or a convention room holding a few hundred people.  Why can’t some authors command a large space, such as a 15,000-seat basketball arena or even a sports stadium?

I don’t understand why a popular best-selling author like JK Rowling or EL James don’t try to sell tickets to an author concert at a place like Chicago’s Wrigley Field.  They have each sold over 100 million copies of their books.  Couldn’t they get 30,000 or more people to hear them speak for the admission price of a book purchase?

What if a large publisher, like Penguin Random House, took four or five of its stud authors and created a slate for the ages and allowed each one to speak for 30 minutes at Yankee Stadium?  You could break up all of the talking with local music acts or amateur comedians or circus acts.

The closest I’ve seen this happen was at some arenas, including Madison Square Garden and Miami Arena, where a theme was picked, something like SUCCESS or WEALTH, and there’d be six to eight speakers, some of whom happened to have books but writing wasn’t what made them famous or successful.

When the Beatles came here, the idea of a huge stadium concert was foreign to Americans.  But look at what’s happened since then.  Some bands and musical acts may sell out a whole week’s worth of concerts in a big city venue.  It’s normal to go see a musical act with 50,000+ fans but back then it was an unusual experience.  But someone had the idea and took the initiative to say “let’s do this.”

We need that kind of leadership and initiation now. Think of all the books you’d sell – and of the media coverage it would yield.  Think of the great social impact such an event would have on society in general and the reading public specifically.  Heck, how about a hybrid concert - one part music, one part author?  Now, that would be a sell-out!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Advertising Books Like Starbucks Is A Smart Idea



A full-page advertisement in The New York Times recently showed how a company can team up with books in a smart and productive way.  No, it wasn’t an ad from Amazon trying to clean up its negative workplace image, as depicted in a recently published story about such horrors of working for the online retail leader.  This was an ad from Starbucks, promoting a cause, a book, and a great company.

Starbucks is selling books at some of its stores.  Awesome.  The ad said it would donate 100% of the profits from the sale of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson, to the Equal Justice Initiative, which provides representation to Americans denied fair treatment in the legal system.  The ad encourages people to learn more at www.eji.org.

How nice.  It seems like something that can be repeated by other companies.  They don’t have to donate 100% of the profits – or any amount at all – but they can hijack a quality book and adopt it, making it their own.  Why can’t McDonald’s, the Gap, or Toyota take out ads to align itself with books we can all believe in?  It’s a win-win-win. Books get sold, companies look good by association, and consumers learn about a good book.

Amazon, take note!

There’s a book about everything, so anyone can highlight a book that addresses a major problem or issue, including books on:

Peace.
Literacy.
Free Speech.
Love.
Faith.

The list goes on.  Corporations, seeking new ways to sell a positive image, could do what Starbucks did or go a different route.  Companies could:

·         Give books away for free
·         Package books with their product
·         Use the author as a spokesperson
·         Sponsor events for the author’s appearances
·         Highlight positive excerpts from the book in the ad
·         Partner with the author to form a charity

Starbucks has been doing the right thing for years when it comes to publicly speaking out on social issues.  It makes you feel good to be their customer, as I have been for more than 15 years.  They are not like any other coffee place. 

From the quality of their product, to the environment we consume it in, to the care they take to recruit, train, and retain talent, they rock!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015



Saturday, August 22, 2015

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 Is Great!

There are many almanacs, fact books, record books and books that highlight extremes or oddities, but one of the best such annual books for kids, ages 8-12, is National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016.

So what makes this book, a New York Times Bestseller, appealing to kids like my 10 year old son? 

It is:

·          Glossy, colorful and well designed.
·          Priced right at $14.99.
·          Useful in sharing information on a wide variety of subjects including travel, geography, green living, women in history, weather, animals, oceans, the human body and space.
·          Fascinating in its presentation of stories, unusual facts and stunning photos that reveal a hidden world to us.

Here are some interesting facts that any reader can discover and enjoy by reading this book:

·           Only one US president was born in September, William Taft.
·           The Amazon Rain Forest in South America is nearly as long as the continuous United States.
·           The language most people speak as their primary language is Chinese—1.2 billion speak it worldwide. Spanish is second with 414 million. English is third with 335 million.
·           Some dinosaurs were no bigger than chickens.
·           A basset hound weighs about as much as an elephant’s head.

These type of books are perfect for kids because they make learning fun. Some of the information may seem more trivial than useful, but children expand their minds to think about life before them and beyond their own backyard.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to see the newest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. It would contain the oddest people, accomplishments and things. It made me realize that the spectrum of humanity was far and wide. Although we all share something in common, we could be capable of such different things.

Books like the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 may not contain many continuous reading passages, but kids do read a lot, especially when they are motivated by the interesting content.

These books help kids learn a certain core cultural literacy while simultaneously selectively showing snapshots of the world that perhaps up until now few people know. I can’t wait to go back and consult my almanac to see what else I could learn.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015