Focusing on Faith
“Without the superstores, our niche titles would be in many fewer places,” he notes, “but when the superstores skip a title, that’s really tough.”
Matlins—who says he has been in the position of pitching 30 titles in one 45-minute sales meeting with a bookstore-chain purchaser—says smaller publishers like his should nevertheless be grateful for the exposure.
“Internet sales are very important and are growing each year, but our experience is that the overwhelming majority of books are purchased because somebody was browsing the shelves, so if you’re not on the shelf, it’s going to hurt,” Matlins says.
Independent bookstores have traditionally carried a greater breadth of materials that provide support for a publisher’s whole line, Kuyper says. With quicker turnover and attention focused on new releases, the big stores do not fill this role—leaving the Internet as the new frontier for creative marketing of backlisted titles and lesser-known books related to popular releases.
“Publishers are pulling back from marketing that reaches retail and reallocating to reach the consumer,” he notes. “The Internet is going to be a big thing with viral marketing. Then the consumer decides where to purchase.”
In this targeted-marketing environment, customer relationship management tools such as e-newsletters are increasingly important.
“E-mail marketing is a big part of our online strategy,” notes Jerry Rogers, marketing manager at Llewellyn, a Woodbury, Minn.-based publisher best known for its New Age spirituality and occult titles. “It’s allowed us to cheaply segment book buyers by their interests, which is vital to a publisher that specializes in a variety of alternative beliefs.”
Llewellyn Journal, a weekly online publication that posts articles from authors, “provides a great way to hook a backlist title to a current trend, making it relevant again and stirring up new interest,” says Rogers.
According to Hughes, e-newsletters are also playing an increasingly important role at Oxford University Press, along with successful online partnerships with BeliefNet.com and the Islamic Society of America.
- Amg Publishers
- Baker Publishing
- Bethany House Publishers
- Bowker Books
- Deeper Faith Resources
- Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
- Hachette Book Group
- Islamic Society of America
- Jewish Lights and Skylight Paths Publishing
- Multnomah Publishers
- Oxford University Press
- Random House Inc.
- Simba Information
- The Book Industry Study Group
- The New York Times
- Time Inc.
- USA Today
- Warner Faith
- Waterbrook Press