Monday, February 11, 2008

How Not To Promote Books

HarperCollins Will Post Free Books on the Web - New York Times:

Starting Monday, readers who log on to will be able to see the entire contents of ‘The Witch of Portobello’ by Mr. [Paulo] Coelho; ‘Mission: Cook! My Life, My Recipes and Making the Impossible Easy’ by Mr. [Robert] Irvine; ‘I Dream in Blue: Life, Death and the New York Giants’ by Roger Director; ‘The Undecided Voter’s Guide to the Next President: Who the Candidates Are, Where They Come from and How You Can Choose’ by Mark Halperin; and ‘Warriors: Into the Wild’ the first volume in a children’s series by Erin Hunter."

Sweet Jesus! Not to prejudge too much, and I'm sure each of these titles will sell well, but on their faces, I don't want to read any of these. Not even for a goof.

Using free e-books to promote traditional books? Great idea. But -- why not post samples from something that either 1) many, many people might be interested to read or whole books that 2) webby, e-book people might be particularly interested in reading.

It seems to me that if you approach digital downloads as a promotional strategy but think that it's basically interchangeable with traditional promos like an author reading or a big cardboard display, you're a long way from figuring this out. It's all so cautious, so tame. While whoever gets there first and makes a big splash could positively catch fire.

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