Whoever thought books can go out of fashion because of some electronic reading devices obviously didn’t’ have the powerful imagination of the publishing houses. From collaborating with coffee shops to delivering stories to your smartphones, they are coming up with innovative ways to keep books relevant.
For instance, one of the initiatives of Harper Collins India is their collaboration with a coffee chain, where they give a book for free when you order a coffee. “Since books and coffee are best buddies, we have collaborated with a coffee chain. We are running the “Grab a copy, post a selfie” with #harperbookgiveaway to promote reading. We also organise book readings and interactions with writers there. We are also collaborating with TrulyMadly (dating app) to promote our romance genre. We also collaborated with a fashion e-commerce website to promote books,” says Amrita Talwar, senior manager, publicity, Harper Collins India.
Among many things, Hachette India executes especially designed campaigns for certain books. For The Girl in the Spider’s Web, they stuck a giant sticker of a spider web on the door of a book shop. “For the walk-ins it was like walking into a spiderweb. While readers get attracted to the books, the bookshops are also most likely to keep the books on display for longer,” explains Avanija Sundarmuti, head of marketing and consumer insight, Hachette India.
And for those who can’t go to a bookshop, Penguin India is getting the bookshop to you, through Penguin on Wheels. “Our vision has been to get our stories and books available to everyone, everywhere, and share the joy of reading. So our book truck goes to places where people might not find a book shop handy. And to catch readers young, we organise reading sessions ,” says Hemali Sodhi, senior vice president, Penguin India. Puffin Books organises Puffin in Parks, an open air library for children, to catch them young.
The publishers are also harnessing the power of social media and smartphones. Juggernaut Books offers books for free for a certain period for time on their app, and offer “a reading experience tailor-made for the phone”, according to Chiki Sarkar, founder of Juggernaut. Bloomsbury India indulges readers with giveaways on Instagram, and engages with bloggers.
“The rise of social media has contributed to direct engagement with buyers and understanding of market needs and gaps. The most powerful use lies in its ability to spread word-of-mouth and get people excited without the need for spending big bucks on every title,” says Yogesh Sharma, VP, Sales and Marketing, Bloomsbury India.
Avanija explains that there is need to reinvent. “Publishers have to compete with CandyCrush and get people to read when they are most likely playing Pokemon Go. So, it’s every publisher’s duty to try new activities to reach out to readers ,” she says.
Amrita adds, “Compared to movies, publishing houses have very limited budgets, so we come up with ways to connect with the readers and explore every platform possible to appeal to the dynamic market.”
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