When it comes to digital marketing for book publishers, it’s still the Wild West: most efforts have all the liveliness and aesthetic beauty of desert scrub. But every now and then someone strikes gold. Here are two recent projects that blew my socks off.
Where Is Danny Torrance?
Get out a pen and piece of paper. Free associate the words that come to mind when you hear “author website.” I’m guessing they aren’t terribly positive. Compounding this is the growing sentiment that “destination sites” have become antiquated as literary discovery moves to social media. (Your friend’s tweet about her favorite new novel is worth a hundred book sites.)
Which is to say: Scribner’s site for Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep is fucking unbelievable. It uses of-the-moment browser and mobile sync to enhance engagement. It creates an inviting, immersive narrative without giving away the book’s plot. It shows serious commitment and effort from its creators, which the user immediately intuits. It’s the kind of website that makes you forget you’re looking at a website. And like all good stories, you can go very, very deep. Continue reading
Filed under industry, mobile
Can we step back for one moment and point out that 2013′s shaping up to be the most fun year in recent publishing history? And it’s only October!
The year opens with the New York Times Magazine putting a mid-career short-fiction writer on its cover and declaring his new collection the “best book you’ll read all year.” Book becomes massive bestseller and a National Book Award finalist. (It should be noted readers were happy to pay for a $26.00 hardcover composed entirely of stories previously published elsewhere.)
In the same year of NSA scandals and Edward Snowden, J.K. Rowling and Little, Brown pulls the wool over the world’s eyes and quietly release a thriller under a pseudonym. The secret lasts a full four months, revealed only when a lawyer’s spouse lets slip the news at a dinner party in London. To reiterate: the world’s second highest-selling living fiction writer (behind Danielle Steel) released a book without anyone finding out for sixteen weeks.
Also in the U.K., the Man Booker Prize is awarded to a 28 year old for an 850-page novel, making Eleanor Catton the youngest recipient and The Luminaries the longest winning novel.
And then straight out of left field, Thomas Pynchon releases this “book trailer”:
…And goes on to the National Book Award shortlist for the first time since 1974.
ALSO. Short-story maestro Alice Munro announces her retirement in July, wins the Nobel three months later. In a 112 years, she’s the only winner to be cited specifically for short fiction.
AND FINALLY. Morrissey releases his autobiography in England. As a Penguin Classic. It’s currently #1. This is the actual cover:
God I can’t wait until November. Maybe Bob Dylan’ll be named Poet Laureate and Penguin Random House will buy the Knicks.
Let’s say you’re in the world’s most acclaimed indie band. You’re on a cool label like Merge, your debut record sold a million copies, and, like Spike Jonze, your success hasn’t tarnished or strained your credibility. So how do you get the word out about your next LP?
If you’re the Arcade Fire, you enlist two tech giants to promote you on their behalf. JustaReflektor.com is a Chrome-based music video that interfaces with your webcam and smartphone. You could argue it’s a product demo for the web browser, much like the band’s “Wilderness Downtown” project was itself a showcase for Chrome and HTML5.
Similarly, “Here Comes the Night Time” is a 22min. showcase directed by music video veteran Roman Coppola with a guest list straight out of the Approval Matrix‘s Lowbrow/Brilliant quadrant: Ben Stiller, Aziz Ansari, James Franco, Zach Galifianakis… even fucking Bono.
The whole thing aired on NBC immediately after the band’s SNL appearance. Was this an insane media buy for Merge Records, some kind of marketing moonshot? Not at all. They weren’t footing the bill: Intel and Vice were. Continue reading
We’re announcing our first batch of titles, including new work from Karen Russell, Hari Kunzru, Chris Adrian, Eli Horowitz, Kamila Shamsie, and others. Publisher’s Weekly provides a nice overview of our plans, and you can read more about all of the books here.
Thanks everyone for coming out to Bookcourt for yet another successful round of Nerd Jeopardy! And a big thanks to Jonathan Ames, Jennifer Gilmore, and the Brooklyn Book Festival.
We even had a dog in the audience, which was a Nerd Jeopardy first. If you couldn’t make it, here’s a quick look at the categories.
Congrats to first place team “Mrs. Queequeg,” who won a bevy of prizes from W. W. Norton including 1,227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off and Shady Characters, perfect books for trivia aficionados. Audience members didn’t leave empty-handed, either, what with all the wine and the free Atavist stories. (Warby Parker fans know there’s another way to get one of those.)
Here’s a Storify of last night’s action. And a few tweets:
Filed under event, industry
The good people at Graywolf Press asked me to write up some of my favorite books for their High Fives series. After a bit of hand-wringing and list-whittling I ended up with what I hope includes something for everyone. (Except fanfic, which didn’t make the cut.) Here’s my list.
We’re living in a great time for advertising. Particularly a specific strain of advertising: The Children of Old Spice. Those landmark ads were in themselves responses to the viral nature of digital content, which prizes surprise over logic and visual wit over professional execution. (E.g., every video of a cat doing something un-catlike.)
And while Madison Avenue scrambles to bottle this magic into something templated, boring, and repetitive, the audience gets a grace period to enjoy truly creative and bonkers ads. Take, for instance, this actually decent spot for a station wagon. Now, car commercials are like electronic music: 99.999% awful unless you’re on drugs and mostly ruined by the rich. Toyota’s strategy is to cram as many YouTube-esque moments as possible into 90 seconds: a gorilla riding a horse, a yogi “voguing,” a whale breaching (straight outta Planet Earth).
This trend of ADD programming will peter out, as all trends must, but I for one am enjoying the randomness of it all.