Marketing Interview: 'Read-it-First' Lets Readers Try Before They Buy
Until now, we really have not spent any money on trying to grow this list, but now I actually am going to spend a little money to grow the audience for Read-it-First.
What’s the most significant change to book marketing you’ve seen over your 17 years in the business?
Baldacci: The biggest change—and it’s probably even bigger than the emergence of the Internet in terms of how you market books—is the change in the retail landscape. It was a very different picture 17 years ago [of] how books were distributed, who was actually selling them and how they were sold. …
What has changed is the portion of our marketing spend that goes to cooperative advertising dollars. So how have we adjusted to that? We’ve become even closer to our retail and wholesale partners. We’ve been very careful about leveraging our co-op dollars to make the maximum impact on particular authors to get the books distributed properly and in the face of consumers. I think that’s been the biggest change. It’s had the biggest impact.
The current economic climate, combined with rising manufacturing costs and the uncertainty that comes with new media, have a lot of people concerned about the future of book publishing. What is your outlook?
Baldacci: I choose to look at this all in a positive light. We need to be very conservative. … We question every dollar that we’re planning to spend. You can look out on the landscape and realize that you have to be cautious about how things are going to change.
All that said, while it’s time to be conservative and cautious, I think it’s also a time to be optimistic about books. If people are cutting down on their disposable expenses, books are still a relatively cheap option. They’re a very solid option. I think that hardcover and paperback books are going to exist for a long time. Not because of the tactile feel of them, but because of their inherent value. These are thoughts and ideas captured in a very good format that makes them easy to digest and discuss.