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Happy World Book Day!

Laura A Lacey7 March 2013

Happy World Book Day from everyone at UCL Publishing!

All across the UK today, children will leave school clutching their £1 book token that we all remember so fondly. As ever, pupils will be able to get £1 off the price of a book or exchange their token for one of the specially produced WBD short stories.

Since WBD began in 1995, these titles have always represented the greatest in children’s literature, with something to appeal to everyone. This year sees a Horrid Henry title, Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders: Funny Invention, and new books by beloved children’s authors Cathy Cassidy and Anthony Horowitz.

They also now run a Young Adult campaign, including a free downloadable app, a forum for book discussion, and a chance for budding authors to have their own novellas showcased.

It’s wonderful to see that so many publishers are supporting this worthy charity and continuing to inspire children to read. I’m sure that many of us on the course will be lucky enough to get involved when we graduate.

But for now, I urge everyone to celebrate by cracking the spine of a book that’s been calling to you from the shelf, or indulge in a beloved tale from your childhood, and remind yourself of why we’re all so committed to working with books!

 

SEX! KINK! EROTICA!

Laura A Lacey6 March 2013

50 shades of greyNow that I’ve got your attention you might be interested in this…

Thankfully, E.L. James and Random House did not favour this in-your-face approach to marketing Fifty Shades. This week, as part of a triple whammy of brilliant guests from marketing professionals, we were treated to a case study of the rise and rise of this unavoidable phenomenon. Sarah Page of Random House gave us an inside look at their massively ambitious marketing campaign and explained why they didn’t need to big up the content.

Traditional techniques were used in a big way: with posters on the underground, at railway stations, airports, and in the print media. The recurring message was ‘Discover the book everybody’s talking about’, giving no clues as to the erotic nature of the book. Nor did the cover give anything away, instead appearing more innocently like a crime thriller. The press coverage, twitter storm, and word of mouth among women up and down the UK did all this for them. Random House just wanted to encourage readers to get involved in the conversation by reading the book, the media frenzy increasingly did the work for them.

Amazingly Random House acquired the UK rights to the self-published eBook and six weeks later had it printed and on shelves. Sarah stressed that speed was essential if they were to trade off the buzz already created amongst Australian and American women. The sales team worked hard to get the retailers on board quickly, using statistics of how well it was selling across the pond. Spaces in shops were already booked up so the publishers provided good, old-fashioned dumpbins, especially in supermarkets where prices were rock bottom but volume was high. The publishers decided to release all three at once; it was feared that if readers had to wait they would lose their enthusiasm and, from a commercial perspective, sales would be driven to internet sources. This certainly paid off and the books famously became the fastest selling book in UK history.

Perhaps the most surprising part of Sarah’s presentation came next, as she revealed how they started to broaden the appeal of the books from the ‘mummy porn’ audience it had already satisfied. They ran advertising aimed at men who wanted to find out what their partners were reading, opening up the gift market with the cheeky line ‘Give her what she really wants this Christmas’, and women over 40… Yep, that’s right, they targeted the granny market with a full page ad in Saga magazine – who knew?

So what next for a woman who has saved hundreds of marriages, inspired the conception of a generation of babies, single-handedly kept Ann Summers in business, and generally upped the country’s libidos? Well, she’s keeping that a secret, but you can be sure it will be another publishing phenomenon.

By Laura Lacey, working towards a career in trade fiction.

Foyles Visit: “The joy of a good bookshop is discovery” (Bill Samuel)

Samantha J Rayner9 January 2013

Last night saw us crossing town to visit Foyles, and hear Bill Samuel speak about the bookshop’s past, present and future. An entertaining speaker, Bill gave us a verbal tour of some of the bookshop’s historical highlights:  for instance, that Christina Foyle used copies of Mein Kampfinstead of sandbags to help bomb-proof the flat roof of the shop during the Second World War, and that she wrote to Hitler to suggest that if he was burning books, he might like to send them to Foyles instead!  He was candid about life in a family business, and emphasised that trial and error was an integral part of learning what makes for success.  Foyles is not just a bookshop – they have tried all sorts of enterprises to generate more revenue:  sheet music, musical instruments, literary lunches, book clubs, film production and even aeroplanes!  “The book trade has always been in turmoil,” Bill said.  There is nothing new about the current arguments for the future of the book – these have been going on for centuries.  What the book trade seems to be extremely good at, and what Foyles exemplifies, is responding to the need to constantly innovate to refresh offerings and exploit readers’ appetite for all things book-(and culture) related.  In the 1990s Foyles seemed to be dying on its feet, but now it is a successful iconic destination for book-lovers, and looks set to take on the future with an assured optimism.

Outside the shop at the moment are giant hoardings, with a cartoon representation of the history of the shop. These images are amazing, and worth a trip to view (see http://www.johnmiers.com/Foylescomic/).

Foyles are about to relocate to the Central St Martin’s School of Art site, which will enable them to almost double square footage, and they are using this opportunity to completely redesign the layout and presentation of their stock.  In conjunction with The Bookseller, they will be holding workshops in February, allowing readers and book trade people to discuss their ideas for how the bookshop of the future should look.  The response to this idea has been overwhelming, (for details see: http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/future-bookshop.html) and it will be one to keep track of in coming weeks…