Seven Stories Press has started a new marketing program that it hopes addresses the concern independent booksellers have over publishers’ direct-to consumer pricing policies, which usually price books at a steep discount.
Dan Simon, publisher of Seven Stories, came up with the idea after Eileen Dengler, executive director of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, contacted him about a special offer his press was promoting on its website in June. The offer promoted books tied to Pride Month directly to Seven Stories' readers at steep discounts. Dengler asked Simon if he could come up with a way to include booksellers in such promotions.
With this in mind, Simon created bundles of themed titles booksellers could offer their customers at a higher discount. The discount will run for a month on the selected titles, and Seven Stories will simultaneously raise the price on the titles sold from its site. In a bid to help build awareness of the titles, Seven Stories will feature the books at a special discount for one week each month, but the price will be no lower than a price booksellers could match.
The program started this month with two different collections—seven books grouped around the “Women in Translation” theme, which features works that have been translated into English and include such titles as The Little Communist Who Could Smile by Lola Lafon, and seven political titles under the “For Human Rights, Against War” banner. It is Simon's hope that the extra discount provided to booksellers will encourage them to develop displays for the selected books.
Todd Dickinson, co-owner of Aaron's Books in Lititz, and president of the NAIBA, said he fully supports what Seven Stories is trying to do. While he said the titles selected for August don't currently work for his shop (which is pushing summer reads), he will make sure "our customers know about the Seven Stories books."
More importantly, Dickinson said he is encouraged by Seven Stories' willingness to try different approaches to work with indie booksellers. "I hope this is the start of a larger conversation," he said.
Simon acknowledged that the model “may not be perfect,” but believes it is good to work with indie booksellers to highlight special titles. "We want to find the sweet spot in how to help booksellers create awareness about our books," he said.
Simon sees the themed promotion as a monthly event, and is working on developing a back-to-school promotion in September.