This is a guest post by Rob Chilver. Rob is a Social Media assistant for Waterstones, working on a number of mediums from blogging to Twitter and Instagram. He also writes about books at AdventuresWithWords.com and hosts a fortnightly books podcast. He can be found on Twitter and on Instagram: @robchilver
I wouldn’t have guessed when I began working as a Christmas temp at a small town Waterstones that I’d end up in Head Office with a view of the London skyline. Yet, from talking to customers on the shop floor to interacting with them on social media and blogs, the core concepts have remained the same. Here’s what I learnt along the way.
Starting tomorrow and running into Saturday (13 and 14 March), Waterstones and HarperCollins are partnering for the Killer Crime Festival, billed as the first virtual crime festival, taking place both online and irl, i.e. in Waterstones branches across the county. The festival sees authors, scriptwriters, criminal psychologists, ex-cops and ex-prisoners in conversation in sessions on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and, in a startling innovation that’ll surely amount to nothing, face to face with their audiences.
This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License.
Amazon is taking over the world, booksellers are going under, ebooks are leading to the demise of the physical book. This has long been the subtext of the modern publishing world but is this still the case? Maybe not.
Credit where it’s due to Waterstones’ PR staff: following a potentially embarrassing incident last week, in which an American tourist had to tweet and post on Instagram for help (#nofilter) after being locked inside the chain’s Trafalgar Square branch for two hours when staff closed up without realising he was still there, they’ve spun what could be a clammy nightmare into a dream come true for a certain kind of book lover. Realising that being locked inside a bookshop for several hours isn’t necessarily so unappealing a prospect, the shop is this Friday hosting a ‘sleepover’ for ten guests and their plus ones.
Following on from last year’s unexpected partnership with Waterstones that saw Kindles sold in the chain’s brick and mortar stores, Amazon has now announced that it will make its e-readers available for sale in independent bookshops in the USA. Amazon Source offers two different packages for physical retailers: a ‘general retail program’ aimed at consumer electronics shops (i.e. markets more interested in hardware than software) that offers Kindle devices at a 9% discount from their suggested retail price and accessories at a 35% discount, and a ‘bookseller program’, which only offers a 6% discount on the price of hardware but keeps the 35% discount on accessories and adds 10% commission on every e-book bought by customers from Kindles bought at the bookseller’s shop.
In its latest attempt at marketing disguised as just a big ‘aren’t books great?’ love-in, Waterstones is asking readers across the country to submit their recollections of ‘The Book That Made Me…‘. Quoth the blurb: ‘Books are powerful things. They can introduce us to new ideas. Give us the courage to do what we couldn’t do before. Even transform our lives completely. The Book That Made Me… is an ongoing collection of stories about lives that have been changed by books.’ Submissions of 100 words or fewer can be made either in store or, naturally, online via this form, which further elaborates upon the basic idea: ‘What has a book made you do? Maybe it was the book that made you travel the world, decide to get married or take up the ukulele.’ So yes, if that sounds like you, you are probably Zooey Deschanel but also Waterstones would like to hear from you.
Last week saw the launch of Bookish in the US – a new, and frankly bloody stunning book discovery/online retailer (or as I call them, a ‘social retailer’). They’ve got a brilliant pitch, a stunning site, and features the rest of us have been discussing for a while that we thought may never come to fruition. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The golden egg, the holy grail, of online book discovery. An algorithm that recommends you books. Not ‘readers also bought’. Not ‘you might also like’. Something that says ‘what’s a book you have read and loved lately?’ and then picks you a bunch more based on what I can only assume is metadata more detailed than a fractal zoom on a mandelbrot set.
I hope you all brought spare underwear.
Joe Pickering is a Publicity Director at Random House UK, in charge of the Jonathan Cape and Bodley Head imprints. With a mega Twitter following (@Joethepublicist) and an enviable list of esteemed writers under his wing, we pick Joe’s brains for industry know-how and find out about the road to publicity stardom…
In news that has gone so far from the definition of ‘news’ that it has circled back round upon itself to become newsworthy again, today sees the publication of JK Rowling’s first post-Harry Potter novel, the adult-orientated The Casual Vacancy. I know, it caught me utterly unawares too. Take a minute to regain your composure and lift your jaw off the floor, why don’t you.
Little, Brown is the company currently looking at its logo on the spine of the book, then looking at the rest of the publishing world, then looking at the Harry Potter series’ sales figures, then looking back at the rest of the publishing world and pointing and laughing.
Last week, a new alliance between supermarket Sainsbury’s and social reading site aNobii rocked the publishing world. As I’ve said before, aNobii have been ramping up their online presence of late and it seems to have paid off with this deal, sparking some discussion as to whether this was Sainsbury’s well and truly making their move into eBook retailing. But can they realistically take on the giants of the book selling industry? In a fight between young-gun Sainsobii and godly Wamazon*, who would win?