Technology is helping publishers reach out to specific segments of their listening audience more effectively. Macmillan Audio has found success tapping into the book club community to promote its titles. Last year, in conjunction with June Is Audiobook Month, Macmillan dipped a toe into the book group promotion pool by working with Reading Group Choices to offer a random drawing in which book groups could win copies of an audiobook for their members and, in some cases, a meeting with an author, narrator, or producer to help enrich the discussion. Stephanie Hargadon notes that roughly 45 book clubs in 30 states won the prize, and feedback was so positive that the publisher wanted to try the promotion again on a larger scale.
This year, about 400 book clubs in 47 states will all receive copies of The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin, read by Katherine Kellgren. That translates into approximately 4,000 listeners. "We ask them to turn their book clubs into listening clubs for June," says Hargadon. The groups have varied format preferences, some requesting downloads and others CDs, according to Hargadon. "It's an idea that we talked about for a while," she says. "It works well, and it's great to be doing something different. We think it's a good way to reach a lot of different communities and spread the word about audio." Goodwin is excited about the campaign as well, says Hargadon. "She taped a video segment for all the book clubs telling them, ‘I'm so glad you're listening.'"
AudioGo will be working with Reading Group Choices this summer as well. Tara Gelsomino, executive marketing manager, explains, "We're running a promotion for 50% off the new title Fallen by Karin Slaughter in July. It will be featured in the Reading Group Choices newsletter, which reaches 10,000 reading groups nationwide, and will appear as a featured book on their Web site." That same month, AudioGO plans to host its own online book club discussion of Fallen via daily discussion posts and contests on Facebook, says Gelsomino. The publisher recently posted on its library site an online .pdf kit for book clubs and reading groups about how to use audiobook titles. The kit also includes a discount on the purchase of multiple copies.
Old School Meets New World
While new promotion methods offer different opportunities for exposure, audio publishers are still making good use of traditional marketing strategies and typically employ a mix of both styles in their campaigns. Brilliance Audio did a cross-promotion with Disney/Hyperion Books last year to give a grand rollout to The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, the debut title in his Kane Chronicles series. Brilliance sent out 5,000 e-mails inviting fans to download the first chapter of the audiobook via the Kane Chronicles Web site (www.thekanechronicles.com).
The audio publisher then unleashed a viral audio campaign beginning with the "leaking" of the "lost recordings" of characters Carter and Sadie Kane, which were sent in a USB drive to 400 librarians, retailers, publicity contacts, and middle schoolers. Brilliance created special audio dramatizations for this purpose, and the clips were also used as a teaser on the Web site. An audio CD was included in the Red Pyramid event kit that went out to 3,500 stores and libraries, and The Red Pyramid was the first-ever YA pre-pub order title featured on Audible.com. Narrators from the audiobook production acted out some parts of the recording during a Disney Publishing launch party for the book held at the Brooklyn Museum last May. All of these efforts helped land The Red Pyramid on the list of finalists for the Audiobook of the Year Audie Award. Winners will be announced by the APA during its May 24 Audies Gala at the TimesCenter in New York.
Whether it's in a kids' meal or at BEA or ALA, a free CD sample remains a staple of audiobook marketing, which has always embraced the mantra "Try it, you'll like it." Scholastic Audio recently partnered with Checkers/Rally fast food chains to provide CD giveaways of children's audiobooks from such series as Geronimo Stilton and the Magic School Bus as the prize in the restaurants' kids' meals. McManus says they will team up again later this year.
Very deep discounting continues to be a popular way to snag new listeners. One of the companies taking this tack for summer is Penguin Audio, which is running a limited-time offer of backlist unabridged CDs for $9.99. Among the titles are Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, Ranger's Apprentice, Book 8: The King's of Clonmel by John Flanagan, and If I Stay by Gayle Forman.
And, happily, outdoor, print, and radio advertising has not been abandoned. For the fourth straight year, Random House Audio has organized a consumer-focused audiobook awareness campaign—Heard Any Good Books Lately?—targeting a particular city. This year Boston receives the audio treatment: audiobooks are being advertised all around town, on buses and taxis, on local radio, and in newspapers, as well as at book festivals and special events, letting readers know that "audiobooks are a great way to experience a story they might not have tried," says Random House publicist Katherine Fleming. And getting consumers to take a chance on audio is still the name of the marketing game, regardless of the playing pieces publishers choose to use.components/article_pagination.html not found (No such file or directory)