With my new book “Cashing in with Content” now five months away from publication, I visited the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association this weekend. The huge show featured 800 exhibitor booths including hundreds of publishers plus other companies serving the library market (stuff like shelves and furniture, audio/visual equipment, databases, and so on).
I was hoping to see what’s new in the world of book promotion. Although it was certainly fun to pick up pre-publication editions of the featured titles publishers are pushing to be hot for upcoming release, I was disappointed by how similar the online marketing of books is.
Consider one category—Children’s Books. I jotted down the names of the publishers that had the largest and most trafficked booths and then went back to check out the Web sites. The sites all feature a photo album approach of pretty book covers with marketing blurbs. There didn’t seem to be any innovative organization, other than by age category (young kids, middle school readers, etc.) Sure the sites were all well designed, but the basic navigation was forcing a visitor to wade through countless books. Harcourt and Hyperion did a better job than some of the others with the book listings themselves, offering links such as How To Buy (both consumer and book trade buyers), More Titles by This Author, Author's Biography, and Author's Website.
It’s just amazing to me that companies with the most content at their disposal – publishers – seem to do a poor job of cashing in with that content. Also interesting is the online version of the show guide , which has all the information about each exhibitor, does not include a listing for the company Web site. I had to use a search engine to even find these publishers on the Web. It seems that print publishers are simply rooted in print marketing.
Here are some children’s book sites to check out: