Saturday, September 21, 2013

Making Books Stick

The other day my local newspaper, The New York Daily News, ran a promotion. It featured six stickers of professional football players. It included four different sets of stickers over a number of days. My eight-year-old son, who is just beginning to appreciate football even if it’s experienced by watching the mediocre Jets, loved the stickers. He didn’t know any of the players but maybe one or two. He doesn’t watch a lot of the sports on TV, but the stickers drew him in. He may just end up having a greater appreciation for the nation’s most popular game as a result of these stickers.

So why doesn’t book publishing do something similar?

Imagine, if instead of there being a half-dozen stickers of 300-pound gridiron giants there were colorful stickers consisting of book covers or author photos. Kids would collect them and start to discuss books with their friends and not the starting QB for the Giants.

Don’t laugh. Why can’t we do this? How about a pack of trading cards -- maybe a set of 100 influential, popular, or important books -- that kids collect and trade? Or how about a book featured on a cereal box? Or maybe a book is advertised on a milk carton?

The book industry, as a whole, lacks a unified effort to get people to value books, encourage readership, and to appreciate the written word. Individual authors can’t afford to do anything but promote their own books. Bigger publishers should work together with each other, university presses, independent publishers, and distributors of self-published books, and digital publishers.

Everyone wins when more books are sold, read, and shared.  

If stickers are used to promote the most-watched sport they can certainly be used to highlight the publishing industry. I hope one day I open up my newspaper to see stickers of authors and books. Then my son can talk about best-sellers and genres -- and not just touchdowns and field goals.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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