Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dropping like flies

Egon Spengler said it back in 1984: "Print is dead."
In an era of targeted marketing, publishers say the best time to reach readers is when they are in the stores with money in their pockets looking to make an immediate purchase. But with a sea of titles in the stores -- the average 25,000-square-foot store in the Barnes & Noble Inc. chain now stocks between 125,000 and 150,000 titles -- the only way for publishers to stand out is to pay for real estate in the front and pile those books up high.

"You want to see your books in prominent places," says Tom Perry, associate publisher of Bertelsmann AG's Random House Publishing Group. "Such co-op advertising is where marketing dollars are going that might otherwise have been spent on advertising." However, Mr. Perry notes that Random House on occasion advertises in the New York Times Book Review when it is searching for what he described as a "traditional book buyer."

One publisher says that chain bookstores can charge $1 or more per book to stack titles in desirable locations, such as on a table at the entrance or in a display featuring new nonfiction titles.

Even those who say they still support book-section advertising say it's only effective as part of a larger marketing effort. Michael Pietsch, publisher of Lagardère SCA's Little, Brown imprint, says advertising in book reviews can help drive sales if the author is well-known and if it's done in conjunction with online campaigns.

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