Extending the shelf life of a backlist title is no easy task, something Hope Innelli knew well when, roughly three months ago, she took the reins of HarperCollins's paperback division as v-p and associate publisher. One way Innelli's tried to generate interest in some of the older titles under her auspices is through an ambitious promotional effort she struck with Sutter Home winery that's become a multitiered marketing effort involving a contest, major retail attention and a co-branded Web presence. So how and why did Innelli think a wine company could help raise the profile of her books? According to her, wine makes as much sense paired with a good read as it does with a nice wheel of cheese... she just had to remind her audience.

When Innelli, who previously oversaw the editorial side of Harper Entertainment, began her new job, the first thing she started thinking about was how to get more exposure for her titles, most of which are women's books. The solo brainstorming brought her focus to the reading group. And that subject, she said, allowed her to focus on what many women do during their reading group gatherings: drink wine. Recalling an editorial conversation she'd had months earlier with a trio of entrepreneurs who started a successful California wine brand called Three Thieves, Innelli got in touch with the group's new corporate owner, Sutter Home. A recognized wine brand with a major retail presence, Sutter Home seemed like the perfect partner, Innelli said. After she suggested to the company that they partner with HarperCollins to promote a 2005 paperback by Elizabeth Noble called—what else?—The Reading Group, Innelli said the idea blossomed into something much more. Eventually the companies agreed on developing a co-branded Web site in which Harper books could be matched with appropriate Sutter Home wine varietals as well as foods (complete with online recipes).

Sutter Home's Food, Wine & Words page (www.sutterhome.com/bookclub/) launched in March with The Reading Group and highlights a new Harper paperback each month for, according to HarperCollins publicist Laura Miller, "as long as the program is successful." (Miller said a year's worth of books for placement on the site have been chosen.) In addition to Reading Group, other titles being plugged on the site have included Noble's The Friendship Test and Rebecca Wells's Ya-Yas in Bloom. As an added incentive to get readers involved, Sutter Home and HC established a contest, which will close July 15, offering entrants the chance to win a trip with their book club to the Sutter Home Inn in California's Napa Valley.

On the retail level, HarperCollins has shipped more than a million neckers (which Innelli describes as "oversized bookmarks with a hole in them") on Sutter Home wine bottles featuring coupons offering $2 off selected Harper paperbacks as well as off the purchase of a bottle of Sutter Home wine. This month HarperCollins displays—featuring six paperbacks—will also make their way into the wine aisles of Albertson's grocery stores; Innelli said some 30,000 books were shipped with the displays, and that Albertson's has roughly 1,500 locations throughout the country.

Though Innelli said numbers on the promotion won't come in until later this month, she's confident that this outreach is where book marketing needs to go. "What makes this such a great partnership is that we're meeting a mutual need. You could read a book alone or drink a glass of wine alone, but saying these are both things done better in a group, well, that's promoting a lifestyle."