Editor's Note: Bring Your Titles to the ‘Fourfront’
While active with other forms of social media, I never really "got" FourSquare. I first became aware of it when I saw Facebook and Twitter posts that friends had "checked-in" at various locations using FourSquare—but I didn't necessarily see the benefit in knowing that Bill was at the gym or Laura was at the grocery store. It also seemed potentially unsafe—did I really want to broadcast to the Internet world where I was at that exact moment? I'll admit, I never took the time to learn how it functioned and what I could do with it.
When a friend told me about how businesses are involved with FourSquare—for instance, she had checked-in at a restaurant and received a free drink as part of a promotion the restaurant was running with FourSquare—I became more intrigued. But still not intrigued enough to sign up. What finally pushed me to join was the January launch of Simon & Schuster (S&S) on FourSquare.
As you will read more about in this issue's cover story on book marketing, this is one of the latest additions to S&S' online marketing strategy. Tips, I'm learning, are a major component of the FourSquare experience. When you check-in at a particular location, you can browse tips on that location provided by friends, other users and businesses/brands—everything from a meal recommendation at a restaurant to a notification about an in-store promotion. S&S' tips provide FourSquare users with a variety of interesting tidbits drawn from its books and authors—tips that users can then share with their friends on Facebook and Twitter, and tips that encourage them to learn more from the related book titles. For example, if I check-in at New York City's Minton's Playhouse, an S&S tip will inform me that jazz legends like Thelonious Monk pioneered bebop there, and that I can learn more in Robin D.G. Kelley's book about Monk. Simply put, this is way cool.
It's also way smart. As I write this, the book industry is still grasping the news that Borders has filed for Chapter 11 and, as a result, will be shuttering 200 stores. That means 200 fewer places where consumers potentially may discover your books. It's more important than ever to make sure that your books stand out, especially with less and less retail shelf space on which to showcase them. FourSquare is one way in which people can discover your titles without ever stepping into a bookstore or even logging onto an online retail site.
Of course, there are other ways as well, and this is an area where publishers and marketers continue to impress me with their creativity, especially in the online space. And while the Internet may sometimes seem like far too vast an ocean in which to cast your net, there are ways in which you can find just the right audience online for your particular book title. This issue's E-Marketing Strategy (page 24) gives you practical tips and advice to do just that.
In Book Business' e-newsletter, Extra (if you're not currently a subscriber, sign up at BookBusinessMag.com), we recently reported on the Association of American Publishers' 2010 book sales figures, and the news was refreshingly positive—U.S. publishers' book sales across all platforms increased 3.6 percent for 2010 versus 2009. Whether they're purchasing print or digital, at brick-and-mortar stores or at online retailers, consumers are still very much interested in buying books. Make sure they find yours.