Marginalia

Enhanced Shelf Talkers

This week I received a note from Patrick Battle, a bookseller at The Book Table in Oak Park, IL. (And not just a bookseller, he’s The Book Table’s longest serving employee.) Patrick wrote about a display idea he had for the store featuring Tom Perrotta’s Mrs. Fletcher.

“I enjoy coming up with alternative ideas to enhance the visual quality of our shelf talkers,” Patrick wrote. “Since a large part of the plot of Mrs. Fletcher revolves around text messaging, I decided to experiment a bit with the style of this particular recommendation with something I hadn’t tried before.

Patrick found an image of an iPhone online, removed the ‘screen’ images, and, with some fonts and a bit of digital magic, replaced it with this recommendation:

“This novel is a fine and fitting reflection of the ever morphing landscape of human relationships, and the difficulty of navigating its nuances as well as transcending the stigmas of its taboos. Perrotta ascribes a convincing amount of naiveté to each of his subjects, allowing their journeys to blossom (for better or worse) with an allure that borders pure magnetism. Their every victory and failure are in some way enlightening, particularly when their supposed principles are in direct conflict with their behavior. Perrotta also gives the impression that he shares some of the curiosity and vulnerability he so eloquently infuses into his characters, which invites us to grow and learn, triumph and fail right alongside them as we contrast their development against our own presumptions. This is a story rich in discovery, and a exemplary tale of people exploring the best and worst parts of themselves, enigmatic though their actual selves may be.”

He then printed the image on card stock and laminated it for use in the store display. The images–the display, the shelf talker, and Patrick doing a bit of cover reenactment–were collaged and posted on The Book Table’s Instagram account, which I’ve embedded below.

I love the coordinated campaign between the shelf talker, the display, and social media. It reinforces a message across multiple platforms while allowing the work to perform double-duty.

Good job, Patrick. Your reign as The Book Table’s longest serving employee should continue another day.

 
 

It’s #NewBookTuesday and Patrick recommends “Mrs. Fletcher” by Tom Perrotta! We have a limited number of signed copies, so grab yours today and beat the heat with a good read in bed! “This novel is a fine and fitting reflection of the ever morphing landscape of human relationships, and the difficulty of navigating its nuances as well as transcending the stigmas of its taboos. Perrotta ascribes a convincing amount of naiveté to each of his subjects, allowing their journeys to blossom (for better or worse) with an allure that borders pure magnetism. Their every victory and failure are in some way enlightening, particularly when their supposed principles are in direct conflict with their behavior. Perrotta also gives the impression that he shares some of the curiosity and vulnerability he so eloquently infuses into his characters, which invites us to grow and learn, triumph and fail right alongside them as we contrast their development against our own presumptions. This is a story rich in discovery, and a exemplary tale of people exploring the best and worst parts of themselves, enigmatic though their actual selves may be.” – Patrick #TomPerrotta #MrsFletcher #Scribner #SimonandSchuster #Fiction #summerreads #indiebookstores #bookrecommendation #booksellers #TheBookTable #bookstagram #newrelease

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300 Seconds: Upcoming IndieNext Deadlines

Here’s a 5-minute marketing task. It’s time to send in nominations for the October 2017 IndieNext list. They are due tomorrow, August 4, 2017, at midnight Pacific.

Just a reminder… these blurbs do not have to be perfect. The folks at the ABA will even help with grammar and whatnot. Either email your nomination to indienextlist@bookweb.org or use the online form.

And if you’re feeling especially productive, nominations for the Winter 2017-2018 Reading Group List are due August 15, 2017. Send them to the same email address or use the same form above. (Look at you working ahead!)

Head & Shoulders Above

Last week I wrote about the need to update the staff images on your website. Rachel Bellavia, marketing and events coordinator at Read Between the Lynes in Woodstock, IL, sent another great staff photo suggestion.

“You never know who among your customers are professional (or semi-pro) photographers,” writes Rachel. “We have a number of photographers among ours, but our employee Evie’s mom offered to take free headshots of all the staff.”

Evie’s mom is Nancy Merkling of Nancy Merkling Productions in Harvard, IL. She took shots of all of the staff holding their favorite book. The images are featured along with staff bios on the Meet the Read Between the Lynes Staff page on the store website.

Rachel (pictured here with The Hobbit) adds, “She made us all look extra amazing!”

Rachel is right when she says sometimes we don’t know when there are professional or semi-professional photographers among our customers. It’s worth putting a query out in the store newsletter or on social media.

Free headshots are extremely generous. If you don’t have an employee’s photographer-mother among your customer database, you might have a customer who would be willing to extend a discount if you’re willing to extend the same courtesy. In the end, even if you cannot work out a discount or a trade, it’s good business to support your customers.

Thanks, Chronicle Books!

I’d like to send a special thank you to Lara Starr, senior publicist at Chronicle Books for giving me the VIP tour of today!

(I forced Lara to sit on Specs the Book Bike–@SpecsBookBike on Twitter–which was created to help celebrate Chronicle Books’ 50th Anniversary.)

Chronicle Books was born in 1967 during the Summer of Love. And since I also got my start that same year, I will carry my 50 Years bag proudly.

Thanks, Chronicle Books! And happy anniversary.

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly…

It’s no secret that I am always looking for email subject lines that are clever and compelling. Why are subject lines so important?

If they’re not opening your email, you’re not delivering your content.

Well, Fountain Bookstore owner Kelly Justice stopped me mid-sentence today. No kidding. I was in the middle of a conversation and left three people staring at me while I stopped everything to open the email I’d just received from Kelly. This was the subject line:

Kevin. Kevin. Kevin. Kevin. Kevin.

Then I made those three wait even longer while I opened the email to read this note from Kelly:

So…I’ve got a problem.

No matter who I’m talking to, no matter how often I repeat it, I keep calling our feature author for Tuesday’s event Brian.

His name is Kevin.

I am certain I am going to do this in his introduction.  

My brother’s name is Kevin. (Yo, Bro!) You’d think I could remember this guy’s name, but you can ask my staff, my sales reps, his fans that have called…for whatever reason, I can’t get “Brian” out of my head or stop it from coming out of my mouth. This is not normally an issue with me. But for whatever reason, I can’t seem to shake it. So if you see me around the store for the next few days muttering “kevin, kevin, kevin, kevin, kevin” under my breath, just ignore me.

There are several reasons I love this. One, it was a great stop-in-your-tracks subject line. I had to open it immediately to find out more. Two, the message was personal. Kelly felt comfortable enough to share her ‘problem’ with me. Three, she tied her message to an event in the store. Even though I will not be near Richmond on Tuesday, I still wanted to learn more about Kevin and his upcoming event.

Even though I already mentioned it once, it bears repeating. Why are subject lines important? If they’re not opening, you’re not delivering.