Barefoot Books Reaches 20,000 Listeners (and Counting) With Weekly Podcast
While it may not evoke memories of your mom or dad tucking you into bed and reading your favorite bedtime story, Cambridge, Mass.-based Barefoot Books’ latest marketing initiative is a sign of the times in an evolving publishing industry: On March 31, the children's book publisher announced the launch of a weekly podcast series that features free story times from its collection of books. The podcasts offer adults and children the ability to listen to stories at home or on the go.
John Bigay, Barefoot Books’ chief marketing officer, spoke with Book Business Extra on what the publisher hopes to accomplish with its podcast program and how it has been received so far.
Book Business Extra: What are Barefoot Books' goals for the podcast series?
John Bigay: We created the Barefoot Books Podcast to offer people everywhere an easy, fun and free way to experience Barefoot Books, while stimulating their curiosity and opening their minds to the world. The goal of the podcast is to bring the best of Barefoot to people who may not be familiar with our books and company, and have them visit our website to learn more.
Extra: How is Barefoot Books promoting it?
Bigay: One of the great surprises we’ve had since launching the podcast is that people of all ages have been listening in and subscribing. While the podcast is really meant for everyone who loves a good story, we're focusing on reaching families with young children, early educators and children’s librarians.
The podcast is available at www.barefootbooks.com/podcast, as well as on iTunes/podcasts/kids and family. We're also using social media channels, including our Facebook page and twitter.com/livebarefoot, to promote the podcast. We've also seen great support from a wide range of bloggers. Last, but certainly not least, The Barefoot Books Ambassadors, our community of direct sellers, are also promoting the podcasts to their contacts via social media and their Barefoot Books’ business websites and blogs, as well as sharing it at book fairs and other events where they're selling our books.
Extra: How has the response been to the podcasts so far?
Bigay: The response has exceeded our expectations. Last week's podcast ranked in the top 10 on iTunes/Kids and Family. To date, nearly 20,000 people have listened to them, and the program just launched a little over a month ago. We’ve heard from many families who have subscribed to the podcast that they look forward to each new episode that comes out every Wednesday. Recently, a parent told us, “I’m not sure how we managed our daily commute without the podcast stories. They make car rides with our children much more fun.”
Extra: What's the selection process for choosing which books to feature in the podcast?
Bigay: The first 25 stories are based on some of our best-selling titles, including “Animal Boogie,” “The Real Princess” and “Portside Pirates.” The podcasts are narrated by celebrated actors, including Juliet Stevenson and Jim Broadbent, with songs by well-known children’s musicians such as [Steve Roslonek of PBS'] SteveSongs and Fred Penner. In the future, we plan to incorporate selections based on audience feedback.
Extra: What other plans does Barefoot Books have to incorporate new media into its offerings?
Bigay: Having people experience firsthand what Barefoot Books is all about through new and exciting forms of media that families can easily access is one of our primary objectives. We're creating a wide array of free digital content to engage people with Barefoot Books. We have a series of animated videos based on some of our best-selling books, including “Animal Boogie” and “Driving My Tractor.” These digital shorts can be found on Barefoot Books’ YouTube channel, as well as on our website.
We're also coming out with a series of new videos this year, including “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “Knick Knack Paddy Whack” and “Portside Pirates.” We're continually looking at ways we can bring the media we've created to a wider audience of people online, and are excited for what the future has in store.