Last month, BookSense unveiled a new top 10 list of past and present John F. Kennedy books, to be promoted in conjunction with the History Channel's week of prime-time documentaries and specials about the slain president that will run from November 16 to 23. It's the biggest initiative so far in the evolving partnership between the marketing arm of the ABA and the cable channel, and will be supported by displays in BookSense stores, on-air mentions of the BookSense list, and a mailing to more than 17,000 libraries across the country.
"It's a great fit," said Meg Smith, BookSense's associate director of marketing, of the relationship between the two organizations. "We have a very similar demographic of people that are interested in the same sorts of things." But even she has been surprised by the high level of bookseller participation in the promotions. "It exceeded our expectations," she said.
The organizations undertook their first joint promotion in October 2002, for a History Channel documentary based on John N. Maclean's Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire (Washington Square Press). Together, they designed and produced posters, easel-backed displays and bookmarks and sent them to booksellers along with firemen's boots that could be used to collect donations to local fire departments.
Last April, when the History Channel aired a documentary based on Jay Winik's April 1865: The Month that Saved America (HarperCollins, 2001), BookSense stores created displays promoting the documentary. BookSense also joined the book's paperback publisher, Perennial, and the History Channel in sponsoring a sweepstakes for a trip along the Civil War trail that attracted 150,000 entries.
Since June, Hardcover History has aired each Sunday evening on the History Channel, while independent bookstores have displayed the corresponding books. Generally, the two organizations and the publisher pool resources to create bookmarks, which list information about the book and publisher on one side and the History Channel documentary on the other, along with an invitation for readers to visit an online book club (www.HistoryChannel.com/hardcover).
The partnership began at a Westchester, N.Y., nursery school, where Smith developed a friendship with another parent, Judy Klein Frimer, the director of brand enhancement at the History Channel. Years later, they ended up in a post-graduate class together, where they discussed their respective jobs, and realized how similar their audiences were.