In Manhattan to promote her new novel, The Other Side of the Story (Morrow, Apr. 27), Marian Keyes recently gave a reading attended by about 100 people. On the table beside the Irish writer and self-described handbag fanatic perched a stylish, multicolored bag, next to a stack of her books.
After the question-and-answer session, when authors typically remind the audience to buy their book, Keyes instead joked about people trying to steal her handbag. "You don't have to steal it," she said, "they're for sale here." For that matter, so were the black sleeveless shirt and the light pink cardigan she was wearing.
The reading and signing took place at Club Monaco on lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which sells trendy clothes to young urban women and men. It was the latest cross-marketing event co-sponsored by Keyes's publisher, William Morrow, and Club Monaco, a 70-store chain that stretches across Canada and the U.S.
Keyes, the author of six previous novels, including last year's Sushi for Beginners, and a fixture on bestseller lists on the other side of the Atlantic, writes about young women who are cool and fashionable, or aspire to be. Club Monaco is the kind of store where you might expect to run into one of her characters. More to the point, it's the kind of store where you might find women who'd enjoy reading about those characters.
"It's about spreading the word and possibly [reaching] some people who shop at clothing stores [who] don't go to book readings," said Sharyn Rosenblum, director of media relations for Morrow. For the event, Club Monaco pushed aside clothing stacks to make room for rows of chairs in the middle of the store. There was free wine and seltzer, and ample opportunity to check out the flippy pastel skirts and coordinating tank tops before the reading.
Club Monaco and Morrow each e-mailed their customer lists about the event. The store also handed out printed invitations for several days before the event. During the reading and for a few days after, stacks of The Other Side of the Story were displayed at the register.
This wasn't the first time Morrow has taken Keyes out of the bookstore to connect with readers. In January, the publisher hosted an event for Under the Duvet, a collection of humorous essays by Keyes, at the Jo Malone store in Manhattan's Flatiron Building. For the same title, Keyes also spent the day under the covers at the Ritz Carlton Central Park talking with reporters—a "bed-in" that evoked recollections of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Morrow and Club Monaco teamed up once before. Last summer, they co-sponsored a book party for Elegance: A Novel by Kathleen Tessaro. Also, in April, Club Monaco co-hosted, along with Broadway Books, the party to launch The Right Address by Carrie Karasyov and Jill Kargman.
The parties fit Club Monaco's strategy of using nontraditional marketing to promote its brand, explained Caroline Dougherty, senior director of PR and marketing. "We find it to be a great way to entertain our existing Club Monaco customers and also to attract a new audience to our stores," she said, adding that the store is "always on the lookout for the next book."
Keyes's reading went smoothly, drawing a standing-room-only crowd that listened attentively as she read with perfect comic inflection. There was only one small hitch: someone tried to leave the store with a security tag on their purchase, setting off a warning buzzer that drowned out Keyes's voice. "That was the end," Keyes quipped when she could be heard again. "It was an act of God."