And we’re off…

In the Fall of 2012, as the marketing manager for Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita, Kansas, I served on a panel at the ABA Education Day in Minneapolis. The topic was “Non-Traditional Events” and I presented ideas for trunk shows, Book Club Sunday, Literary Feasts, etc. During the Q & A session following the presentation, I remember one gentleman asking, with a huge sigh, “How do you find the time or energy to come up with new ideas?” My answer? Every new idea I have is a solution to an existing problem. Trunk shows made it possible for customers to browse through higher priced or forthcoming books before they made a commitment to order. Book Club Sunday enabled us to present our favorite reads to a captive audience. It’s not as though I sit around and come up with things to add to my to-do lists. Instead, I create and implement time-saving solutions.

The idea for Books & Whatnot was born that day. Many booksellers are in the business, first and foremost, because we love books. Some of us have business degrees, but fewer have marketing experience. We have a lot on our collective plates, so to think about the things a good marketer should do quickly becomes daunting. That’s where Books & Whatnot comes in.

I’ve been working in the marketing field for more than 20 years. I spent 10 years at advertising agencies and the last 13 at the bookstore. With Books & Whatnot, I’ll use the knowledge I’ve gleaned to compile a daily marketing cheat sheet… 3 or 4 items you can do each day to promote your book store. Do what you can. Ignore the rest. Some ideas will be “300 second” items for you to accomplish if you only have 5 minutes. Others will be things you can tackle if you have more time. If I post something on Facebook that you like, steal it. Don’t even give me credit.

And if you have specific questions for me, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at

“A Tale for the Time Being”

Shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being was just released in paperback. Have you introduced your customers to her work?

If you have time to do just one thing, share this trailer on Facebook. It’s stunningly beautiful. And Ruth produced it herself. (She’s a documentary film maker and she even has some horror films to her credit.)

And finally, promote it to book clubs! Penguin has a Reading Group Guide available. And they have collateral materials available on their bookseller site. Visit and follow @ozekiland on Twitter.If you have more time, run a report to see who among your customers has purchased My Year of Meats or All Over Creation. If the list is not long and you have the time, give them a call. This will get you the most return on your investment of time. If you don’t have time for a personal call, send them an e-mail. It’s *almost* as nice as receiving a phone call.

Resolutions, Schmezolutions

January is the time to start anew. It’s also a time when we like to challenge ourselves. I recently followed a link to Art Garfunkel’s website where he had documented every book he’d read from 1968 to today. This has so much marketing potential. Here are a few items you can do in your book store.

  1. Share the link with your customers through your webpage, blog, Facebook, e-mail newsletter… whatever. Ask them, “Do you keep a reading diary? If so, in what format?” (You *know* how much your customers like to share their reading habits!)
  2. Show your readers how they can document their reading through Facebook by adding books they’ve read or want to read.
  3. Do you have journals remaining after the holidays? Offer a journal sale and challenge your readers to document their reading throughout the year.
  4. Challenge your readers to make reading resolutions, then invite them to come back on January 1, 2015 to see if they succeeded. Offer a gift card for those that meet their resolutions. (A “Book it” or “Accelerated Reading” program for adults, if you will.) You can even offer prizes for those who read the most books, the longest book, etc.

And don’t forget to keep your own reading diary, posted for your customers to see! You’re hand-selling whether you realize it or not!