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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Backlist Promotion Site by Simon and Schuster

Readers of RA for All and anyone who has ever attended one of my talks knows that I am a huge proponent of the backlist. In fact, here is a direct quote from my own lecture notes:

Promoting books, specifically the backlist, those titles that are great reads, but out of the spotlight, and incidentally, filling most of your shelves just waiting for the perfect reader, meaning they are there right now for that reader who “has nothing to read,” is actually quite easy to do virtually.  The one thing the library has in stock that bookstores do not is the backlist.  We try to focus a large portion of our book promotion on the backlist.  That gem of the library; the thousands of great reads just waiting on the shelf to be matched with just the right reader.  In fact, backlist books are your best bet to target your virtual promotion of books, as I will show you.  The new books are all over the web on other sites, but your backlist is a great asset and it is unique to the library.  What do you do with your best asset?  You play it up people!
Publishers spend most of their time marketing the newest materials and trying to get you to buy the new (hardcover, so higher profit margin) titles.  Even to libraries their marketing is mostly about the newest books.  Once in a while there is some backlist marketing for book discussion purposes, but that is about it.

As I say above, there are thousands of options we can market to people at the library, options that are no longer easily available to browse at a bookstore, but we librarians have to create the buzz on our own.

But starting yesterday, we got a little bit of help promoting our extensive collection of backlist titles as S&S launched a brand new book discovery site called, Off the Shelf. From their press release:

Off the Shelf – a New Daily eMail and Website Dedicated to the Discovery of Favorite Books — Launches Today from Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster is pleased to announce the launch today of Off the Shelf (http://offtheshelf.com), a publisher-agnostic website and daily email dedicated entirely to previously published books.
Every day, Off the Shelf will feature an original review or essay about a book that was published at least one year earlier, and which must be currently available for purchase in some format (hardcover, paperback, ebook or audio). By focusing on books that were published anywhere from one to one thousand years ago, and for which the reviewer has a deep passion to share, the site aims to help readers unearth books that they may have always meant to read or missed out on at the time of the original publication.
Also available as a daily email subscription, Off the Shelf will feature titles from all publishers, and will review fiction and nonfiction titles for adults and young readers.
“While it is very easy to learn about the latest, hot new must-have books, we know from experience that many readers are more interested in what’s relevant to them regardless of its moment in the publishing cycle,” said Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO of Simon & Schuster. “With Off the Shelf, we aim to bring attention to books that were bestsellers you might have read or wanted to, books that you may have missed in the often overwhelming number of titles that get published every year, or simply books that have touched us as readers, left an indelible mark on us, and become friends that we revisit often. These are books that are often spine out in stores, buried on a home bookshelf, or deep within library stacks. We hope that shining a new light on them will help others discover a passion for them as well.”
Reviews for Off the Shelf will be written by Simon & Schuster employees who wish to share their enthusiasm and help other readers discover or re-discover books that through the years have mattered to them as readers, and that they believe deserve renewed attention.
Off the Shelf will also feature occasional guest reviews, interviews, articles and reading lists from authors and editors on books of import to them as readers and as writers. These unique pieces will allow the reader to go behind the scenes of publishing and find out more about how a book may have influenced the author’s writing, career, or other books.
The newsletter and the site will also include curated reading lists, videos from Simon & Schuster’s “What I am reading now” series and author videos from other publishers. Suzanne Donahue, Associate Publisher of the Simon & Schuster Publishing Group, is responsible for the day-to-day operation of Off the Shelf, in conjunction with Simon & Schuster Digital.
So now we have S&S creating some backlist buzz for us.  Maybe other publishers will start to get a clue about the wonders and joys of the backlist.
I’ll keep you posted.

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