Tell Us About Your Crazy Book Marketing Ideas

Each month this column will feature another wild, crazy, untried book marketing technique that catches our attention - please, no explosives or poisonous snakes -- and we will chronicle it here. Go crazy!

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Crazy Book Marketing Idea of the Month

This Month: MySpace to the Rescue
Bookseller Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon is a 35-year-old male, 8'11." The Strand Bookstore in New York is a woman; zodiac sign Aquarius. BookPeople in Austin is single and would like to meet "young wizards," "literary snobs" and "people into playing Mad Libs."

As you may have figured out, these odd descriptions come from the bookstores’ profiles on MySpace, the hugely popular online social networking site typically inhabited by teens and 20-somethings. But for booksellers who've been building their presence on the Web, MySpace has become one of the keys to attracting people to visit their websites.

The owners of Women & Children First bookstore in Chicago had already begun using MySpace to promote author events, but now the site is helping them keep their doors open—at least for awhile.

In a blog entry "How You Can Help Insure the Future of Feminist Bookselling in Chicago," the owners asked customers to shop at the store, tell friends about it and "show their love" by putting Women & Children in their top MySpace "friends" area.

The response was immediate, both online and at the store, where weekend sales were the highest since Christmas, and 30 new members paid $25 each to join the store’s 10% off club. Not surprisingly, the store’s Internet sales have also increased significantly.

In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Bubon said, "We’re coping with a downward decline sales that’s having a crushing effect on us. Sales have gone down roughly 5% each year for the past three years," she admitted, attributing the drop to the proximity of a Borders store, which opened a mile away from Women & Children First three years ago, as well as ongoing competition from online booksellers.

This new development has Bubon feeling more upbeat: "People will respond, if you just let them know."

Visit the Women & Children First MySpace page.

View the Plea for Help or read the text below:

Yes, you can play a vital role in helping to insure the future of feminist bookselling in Chicago! Here's how:

1. Choose to shop at our store. Besides great books, we also carry a hand-picked selection of new release independent music by women, jewelry, buttons and bumper stickers, all the cool magazines, and a children's section we are famous for.

2. Talk us up to your friends, or, better yet, bring them in.

3. When you attend free programs at our store, please buy a book! This not only supports our programming endeavors, it also supports the writer and tells the publisher that it is worthwhile to send their authors to us.

4. Sign up on our website for our free e-newsletter to keep up to date with what's happening at the store:

5. Be our MySpace friend and subscribe to our MySpace blog for same reason as above.

6. Become a bookstore member. Annual membership costs $25 and gets you 10% off of all your book purchases, plus inclusion in the annual member's-only sale and a free subscription to More Books For Women (a $35 value!) a monthly round-up of recommendations from feminist bookstores around the country. Keep up with the latest new releases!

7. Show your love: put us in your top "My Space" friends.

8. If you are in a position to do corporate gift giving, consider our "Books by the Box" program. We offer direct to business delivery and substantial discounts on 20 or more copies of a single title.

9. Support the Women's Voices Fund, our not-for-profit programming arm, which helps sustain our active free programming schedule. Donations of over $50 are tax deductible when made out to the Crossroads Foundation (they manage the Women's Voices Fund). This also helps insure the future and diversity of feminist programming in Chicago!

10. We can offer bulk discounts to libraries, social service organizations, schools, and more. If you have a bulk book order to place, come to us first.

11. Tell us what we need to do to be your dream bookstore. If there is any way that we can serve you better, let us know. Your opinion matters to us. Our ability to meet your needs is essential right now to our survival. Help us make that happen!

12. For birthdays and holidays tell your friends and family that you want a Women & Children First Gift Card!

13. For birthdays and holidays, get your friends and family Women & Children First gift cards!

14. Place your special orders with us. Order books online 24/7 at

15. Repost this with your own testimonials, and share this info. with your friends, colleagues, classmates, and strangers on the street.

(Posted Friday, April 13, 2007)

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Links to previous Crazy Book Marketing articles:

The New Bookmobile?

Laughing to Keep from Crying

Ruby Lee, the Bee of Many Marketing Possibilitees

Political Leaders as Book Marketers

Selling Books on the Streets of New York

"I'll Take Crazy Book Marketing for a Thousand, Alex..."