Webcasts: A Hot Marketing Tool
The June release of British writer Ian McEwan’s “On Chesil Beach” was accompanied by screenings of a 28-minute film profiling the author at dozens of bookstores in the United States. According to producer Powell’s Books, the film aimed to go beyond the traditional author reading to inspire “spirited discussion about great new books and their impact on readers’ lives.”
This was, perhaps, an innovative and effective tool for promoting McEwan. But if proponents of the emerging tool of webcasting are proven right, the logistical challenges accompanying such an operation (and those inherent in luring a finite set of audience members to bookstores to watch an author’s video) will, in the near future, seem a bit old-fashioned. New technologies and online habits point to online video, virtual forums and Web links as important new ways to build excitement among book lovers, albeit treading on the sacred province of the in-person author reading and book signing, of which movie screenings represent a mere tentative foray.
“Books are about engagement,” says Brad Inman, founder and CEO of TurnHere, which launched a book-centric Internet channel in partnership with Simon & Schuster in June. “In publishing, we already know it’s very successful for book authors to go to book signings and lectures. Readers like to interact not only with the book, but with the author.”
The new channel offers book lovers a chance to do just that, Inman says, with an array of social networking options framing in-depth author profiles. “This is about relevant, usable, searchable information,” he says. “If you engage people emotionally with the author, then, guess what—they may buy more books.”
The channel, BookVideos.TV, was launched alongside a branded YouTube platform (YouTube.com/BooksVideosTV). Video also will appear on the publisher’s Web site, SimonSays.com. According to Simon & Schuster Vice President of Online and Consumer Marketing Sue Fleming, the effort represents an extension of what book publishers have always tried to do.