It’s Still Storytime

As you can see in the picture, Crackle is still busily reading his O’Brien Press books! The fantastic Storytime promotion which we have been running with Rice Krispies is alive and kicking … When Hughes & Hughes closed their shops earlier this year it made things complicated, but we are delighted that the Hughes & Hughes shops in Santry, Ennis, Dundrum and Swords have re-opened, and they they will redeem your vouchers for books — or you can send the form, tokens and €1.50 per book to Kellogg’s Storytime Promotion, PO Box 9922, Dublin 15.

So cut the sides off those cereal boxes and get your hands on some great books for the summer.


Old and New

The old and new worlds of publishing and marketing all happen at the same time these days: we have just launched An Irish Voice by Niall O’Dowd, a very influential Irish-American with links everywhere, who played a crucial role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process, among other things. It’s a great book, but I’ll stop the sales pitch here! What I want to explore here is how the changes in the book world have impacted on how we have taken this title to market. In many ways, this title has been a textbook example of the traditional way to launch a book:

  • pre-sell to the book trade five months in advance with a good cover, advance information sheet etc
  • release the book in to the supply chain ten days before you start the publicity, to give the books time to make their way onto the shelves: there’s nothing worse than a customer leaving a shop because the book is still in goods inwards!
  • get the book into key reviewers’ hands, and ensure that all the authors friends, colleagues and ex-colleagues know about it in plenty of time to use their influence in the national print media: we got a string of fabulous reviews, particularly Tim Pat Coogan in the Irish Independent.
  • select a newspaper to have exclusive access to an extract from the book
  • get all the traditional broadcast media lined up behind it: Today With Pat Kenny, Ireland AM, The George Hook Show, Drivetime etc
  • get a high-profile person to launch it (you can’t get much more high profile than An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen!) and hope that the press will cover it. The event was great, both Niall O’Dowd and Brian Cowen gave excellent speeches and lots of influential people enjoyed mingling with each other. And even better (the day after a soccer international with Brazil) the Irish Independent had a picture from our book launch on their cover (as well as an inside story) instead of Robbie Keane!
  • get the author to sign stock
  • keep pushing for more stories, more coverage and a wider spread in the local media

And yet, current trends in the world of books are playing an ever-increasing role

  • the microsite is live:
  • this is our first ever commercial eBook: it is available (and copies have been sold) on the Amazon Kindle
  • other electronic versions are following quickly in its heels: more news to follow on this very soon
  • the media list contains an ever-increasing list of blogs, websites and other online opinion-formers (many of the enthusiastic amateurs) as well as the more traditional targets
  • the signed stock is being sold online (on our site as well as the microsite) in addition to via traditional booksellers.
  • the presence of the book on is enhanced with extracts and a video (produced in-house) of Niall talking about the book. Both as a marketing and sales tool, is becoming ever more important, and was responsible for 2% of our total sales last year — not to be sniffed at, and growing all the time.

And all this without facebook, twitter, Google AdWords, iPhone apps and enhanced Smell-O-Vision e-book! Marketing and selling a book is all about making connections with the reader effectively and efficiently: how much of this will look a little quaint and old-fashioned in another couple of years? How many more books will sell electronically and how many less physically (sadly, no more will sell via Hughes & Hughes: this family-owned Irish chain had some excellent shops and great booksellers, and will be sorely missed by book-lovers here. Our sincere sympathies to the 100 or so people who have lost their jobs — the latest victims of the Irish economic collapse. We are delighted that Eason have taken over the contract for the airports — great news for World Book Day)?


Snap, Crackle, Pop, Read!

I promised some exciting new promotions for the start of 2010, and we have just launched the first one: in association with Hughes & Hughes booksellers and Kelloggs, we are absolutely thrilled to be part of Rice Krispies Storytime. As you can see from the picture (taken in my local supermarket the other day: my first sighting in the wild after months of planning), every pack of Ireland’s Loudest Breakfast Cereal is promoting reading at the moment, with a selection of six O’Brien Press books on the front and back of the box. There is a lovely website to follow soon and an official launch at the start of February.

In time-honoured fashion, the cereal boxes have vouchers to collect and these can be redeemed against the books for a small postage and packing fee. One recession-friendly change to this pattern is that the Storytime books can also be collected directly (at no charge) from any Hughes & Hughes bookshop, where the books will be prominently displayed.

The books and authors involved are

This is the first time we have done a promotion in association with an FMCG company (fast-moving consumer goods ie the stuff you find in supermarkets!) What I really love about this one is that it’s Irish: many multi-national brands don’t seem to make any real effort to appeal to their local audience, preferring to rely on their international muscle to do most things on a multi-national level. Kelloggs, however, have arranged this locally with an Irish-owned chain retailer and an Irish-owned publisher to appeal to Irish kids, and have put a lot of thought and effort into it — well done them, I say.

Now, let’s get all our kids reading, seeing as it’s too cold for them to be outside at the moment!