How Not To Sell Books

So, yeah, it’s Monday morning and I’m checking headlines, and I see an interesting article from Publisher’s Weekly about the Penguin group: turns out they’re pushing the direct sales. Now, me being me, I’m immediately interested. This is the first time a major publishers has made direct-to-consumer sales — no local bookstores, no Amazon — a high-profile goal.

Or not.

Let me explain, first by quoting from the PW article:

Penguin has launched a street campaign advertising 25% off all online purchases through Labor Day in what looks to be the most aggressive move by a major house to encourage consumers to buy direct. For the campaign, which is planned for four days in New York City, the house produced 5,000 promotional fans advertising the discount on one side, and, on the other, Penguin-branded gear, including a tote bag and a baby jumper. Put together by Penguin Online, the Manhattan-focused push began Wednesday night when fans were distributed outside the Metropolitan Opera. It continued last night as another 1,000 fans were handed out at Grand Central Station. The promotion will be wrapped up this weekend as the final 3,000 fans will be given out in Central Park on Saturday and Sunday, near the Delacorte Theater, during the two Shakespeare in the Park performances.

Okay, so there’s this massive campaign to get encourage consumers to purchase directly from Penguin’s website…and they’re doing the whole thing via fans? Now, at first, when I read this I thought fans, as in people who are rabid about books. No, it’s fans as in those things you wave up and down to cool yourself. And the fans are only being distributed in New York.

I am hoping the fans give a URL to help with the shopping experience, because the Penguin website is no help at all. Not a word about this sale, not a peep about the promotion. The closest the website comes is a series of links for “Shopping Tools”. I kid you not.

There is no storefront, no encouragement to buy books. The campaign truly appears to be limited to the handing out of fans. In order for this promotion to actually find an audience, Penguin needs to supplement the kitschy stuff with an online campaign. At least a link on their home page.

Something tells me that Penguin’s powers-that-be are going to be doing some head scratching about this promotion. Why didn’t work? Where did we go wrong? I guess nobody wants to buy from us, huh?

Something also tells me that the Penguin PTB never look at their home page.

3 Responses to “How Not To Sell Books”

  1. Thank you for the advice on how not to sell books. Now I am off to make sure that customers visiting my website can figure out how to buy MY books online. Woof! Woof! By the way, I’m rather shy and my picture is not yet up at my website. Also I have to make sure my owner doesn’t discover my secret book business so I am having an artist draw my likeness just in case my owner finds my site.


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