It was only a matter of time before some computer-savvy publisher would hit upon a successful strategy for combining state-of-the art technology and traditional printed catalogues to make its titles more accessible to bookstore buyers.

This summer, Sports Publishing in Champaign, Ill., has done just that, with an interactive DVD it's calling Video Title Links (VTL), which provides a video presentation on each title by its author. Sports Publishing's commission reps are handing out more than 1,000 VTLs to bookstore buyers this summer. The DVDs are also being mailed to booksellers and media along with copies of the company's printed catalogues.

Sports Publishing's entire frontlist of 96 titles is included on each interactive DVD. Each title can be accessed in one of three ways: topically by sports category; regionally by subject matter; or alphabetically by title. Once a title is accessed, the viewer is treated to a short presentation by the author (most of Sports Publishing's titles are written by celebrity athletes or other prominent sports figures). A book lacking celebrity star power is pitched by the marketing manager responsible for that particular title.

Each virtual presentation includes a synopsis of the title and the publisher's plans for marketing that title. The ISBN is displayed on the screen during the presentation, and all bibliographic information is displayed afterward.

According to Kevin King, Sports Publishing's v-p of marketing and sales and the brains behind this venture, the DVD is intended to supplement, rather than replace, reps calling on bookstores or the printed catalogue. "Booksellers are busy. This is something for them to look at after talking to the rep," he said. "It's helpful to chain buyers as well as to the independent booksellers."

By August, booksellers will be able to able to access VTLs by logging on to Sports Publishing's Web site (, or by asking Sports Publishing to e-mail hypertext on specific titles that will provide the bookseller with a link to that title's VTL.