Have you noticed? There really aren’t advertisements for books anymore. Maybe you’ll see an add for an upcoming book in the back of the odd woman’s magazine or in a featured article in the newspaper, but other than that, we rarely see book ads. And yet, they used to be quite common, with detailed information about the books as well as quotes from reviewers. Very similar to new movies, in fact. So why don’t we see them anymore and how do we hear about new books?
New York Times book critic Dwight Garner put together a compilation of advertisements in his book Read Me : A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements.
The ads are fun to look at, sometimes lengthy, and often don’t make the book look as appealing as it should, but they certainly got people reading. You can see a few of the ads at the Brain Pickings website right here.
So where are book ads now? Do magazines and newspapers just not have the space to carry them anymore? Or is the web a better source of advertisement for authors? With so many authors establishing their own websites, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages etc., it’s easy for people to find out about new books coming out. Similarly, for anyone who likes to read, there are plenty of websites out there that cater to whatever genre you might read. Maybe there’s no need for expensive advertising anymore.
That brings me to another reason. Gone are the days publishing companies spent big bucks to help promote an author’s book. They just don’t have the funds anymore to carry that out. If you read any up and coming author’s websites, you’ll hear the same story–that they’re stuck doing a lot of the promotion themselves, and sometimes at a significant cost to themselves. If the book happens to get a bit of good press for a hot topic, for example, it might come easier. But for most authors, there is limited funding available from the publishing house for advertisement. That’s why authors are encouraged to get out there and promote, promote, promote, to establish a following BEFORE a book is published and to really have a good online presence throughout the whole process. Difficult, but possible these days.
If there were more ads for books, either in mags, newspapers or online, would you find yourself reading more? I’m not so sure. It’s not that books have become passe, it’s just that the method of exposure has changed.
How do YOU find out about new books?