Item One: from Penguin
Penguin is an intriguing publishing company. They seem more 'out there' than the other big publishers, testing the edges, pushing the envelope, checking out market possibilities that are outside the square old publishing box. Of course, they've done plenty of not-so-enlightened things lately, too (remember the library e-book lending kerfuffle?) But the company does seem to have a history of proactive marketing in some key areas, from the creation of the soft-cover paperback a long time ago, to the following.
Shelf-awareness.com, a great daily literary trade and reader report, published the following article last week about Penguin's new First to Read program, which not only focuses on utilizing social networks to get readers to spread the word about books Penguin publishes, but offers the tantalizing chance for participants not only to get excerpts of upcoming books (Penguin has been doing this a while through email subscriptions), but access to digital galleys. Wow. Zingy.
6/19/13 issue of Shelf-awareness.com
Penguin Launches 'First to Read' Program for Consumers
Penguin Group (USA) is launching First to Read, a program offering readers free excerpts from books months before they are available for sale, as well as potential access to digital galleys. Describing the initiative as part of its "ongoing efforts to increase book discoverability and engage with readers," Penguin said it hopes to harness the power of word-of-mouth by offering members an opportunity to share news and information about books through their connected social networks. First to Read also includes a loyalty program that awards members points for their participation that can be redeemed for guaranteed galley access and other perks.
"First to Read is a program created for all readers, providing exclusive, early access to our upcoming books," explained Suzie Sisoler, senior director of consumer engagement. "We know people love to talk about and recommend the books they've read and are reading, and to encourage that, we've integrated social sharing throughout the site."
I don't know about you, but I find this impressive—whether it turns out to be a success or not. Penguin is accessing social media in creative ways, recognizing and utilizing the power the internet has given grass-roots efforts through social media connections.
Item Two: from Amazon
Amazon has started to pay decent advances and provide substantial editing, cover design, and marketing support for some top selections in their Amazon-published titles. And this includes titles that were initially self-published, then picked up by Amazon Publishing.
Between this and Penguin's news, I'm starting to wonder if the shakeout in the publishing industry is finally beginning to find a shape that might work. Wishful thinking probably, but these two developments do seem to have popped out as both pragmatic for readers and writers and clever from a marketing viewpoint.
What do you think?