Watch a Book Trailer!

We’re having fun at the library! Although it used to be that we didn’t allow cell phone use in the  library, with our online catalog available on our Facebook page, we’re trying to think of new ways to use our phones and tablets. How about watching a book trailer by scanning one of those QR codes? Now you can!

What’s a QR code?  It’s one of those funny looking pixelated squares you see on packages, signs and in magazines.

qr

All you need is a free QR code reader on your phone and you can scan the square to watch a book trailer. It’s that easy! Now you can do more than just read the inside cover to find out if you’ll like the book…why not watch the trailer to get a better sense? (Not sure what a book trailer is? Often, authors will create a short “movie” to let you get readers excited to buy or read their books. It’s not a real movie, so don’t expect it to show up in theatres, but they’re usually quite good!)

Keep your eye out for these to appear in the library in the next few months. And scan away…

The Beyonce Debate

The music world is very much like the book world in many respects. Big names garner huge sales without much effort, and little names usually need a lot of publicity to make their mark. In December, a music great did something not many people would have the nerve to try, and it worked out for her spectacularly!

If you haven’t heard about Beyonce and the self-titled album she released in mid-December, you probably don’t listen to Top 40 radio. But she did something daring—instead of months of promotion leading up to the album release, Beyonce used Instagram and posted a video and the word “Surprise!” on the day of the release. Nothing more. No one knew about the album, it had an exclusive release on iTunes (meaning, you could only buy it there), and best of all, she did no other marketing at all. The one photo caused an all-out frenzy and people went directly to iTunes to download, making it one of the top selling albums of 2013, even though it was only released in the final few weeks of the year. Amazing, by any standards!

beyonce

Of course, she’s such a superstar and has such a following that it wasn’t impossible for this to succeed in her case. It was risky, but it paid off. The debate is on now, however, about other musicians doing something similar, and whether or not it would work now that it’s been done. Was it great just because it was a gimmick? Could she do the same for her next album and still do as well? Only time will tell, but the idea of not spending money on marketing has got to be throwing publicity departments everywhere into a tailspin.

The question here is whether or not companies need to be throwing HUGE publicity/marketing money behind sure-sellers who have proven themselves to have enormous followings. This idea is starting to make the rounds on forums and websites galore. Can they go with minimal marketing and still sell high, while that money could be thrown into lesser-known acts who often get very little in the way of marketing funds and publicity? Sure, record companies want all of their acts to sell big, but they don’t want to “waste” marketing money on someone who might not sell as many albums. It’s a tough decision, and certainly one that’s just been challenged.

This can all be applied to authors and publishing companies as well. If an author has already sold well and has a proven track record, more money will be spent promoting the author’s books in stores, online and through whatever media necessary.  But a new author—even one with a lot of buzz—will traditionally get less backing from their publisher for marketing. That seems a little counterproductive. Beyonce’s experiment has many wondering whether this is an old idea that might do well to change. If publishing companies spent less sending bigger authors out on book tours etc., would we stop buying those books? I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t keep looking for new books from my favourite authors just because I haven’t seen a full page ad in a magazine talking it up. But I WOULD be inclined to pick up a book by a new author that has some promotion behind it. Often, we find out about these books through word of mouth. It’s not enough, in my opinion.

The world is changing, and social media is becoming the way to connect authors/musicians with their fans. One tweet, one status update or one selfie on Instagram is often enough to generate thousands of likes and hundreds of comments. Maybe we’d do better to start focusing some social media marketing on well known names, and leave the traditional marketing to promote the lesser known.

What do you think about new creative ideas for promotion and marketing? Do you think lesser known authors would benefit from more backing, while not taking anything away from high-profile authors? Do we need to change our thinking behind promotion and social media? Join the conversation!

Get creative!

Finally, a Frivolous Friday post! It always amazes me when I see creative people who make fantastic things out of simple principles or basic materials. Khoa Phan is one of those people. He creates unbelievable stop-motion videos using not much more than paper and a camera.  He even recycles his materials to use later!

He started his wonderful videos after using Vine, a mobile app owned by Twitter that allows users to create and post video clips. He wanted to do something more creative, and got to work on his first Vine. But it was his second one that caught the attention of the Vine creators, who selected it as a favourite. After that, he started getting lots of followers and hits to his creations. He’s now gone on to create more than 100+ vines, many with a positive theme like “have a nice day”.

His videos are also now starting to get the interest from brand names, such as Coca Cola. Who wouldn’t want a creative genius to do a fun video for them? If you want to read a wonderful interview with Khoa Phan and find out how he does these videos, here’s a fantastic article!

Maurice Sendak’s Google Doodle

It’s Maurice Sendak’s 85th birthday today, and in honor, Google has created an interactive Google Doodle celebrating  WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. Yay!

maurice_sendaks_85th_birthday-1525005.5-res

Canadian Libraries

Recently, the OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center), posted a fantastic visual reference on How Canadian Public Libraries stack up!  The results were truly fascinating and I think we can learn a lot about how the public uses and views libraries, through it. The OCLC is a worldwide library cooperative that aims to improve access to information held in libraries and find ways for libraries to reduce their costs through collaboration.

A few of the fascinating comparisons? 

Nearly two out of three Canadians have library cards…almost the same percentage as people who have passports. (But of course, the library is your passport to anywhere, isn’t it?)

Canadian libraries circulate 10 times more DVDs each day than the online DVD rental company, Zip.ca.  (All right, no word on the comparison to Netflix users, but I feel like we could probably give them a run for their money, too!)

Nearly 200 public libraries offer meeting spaces…and Carleton Place Public Library is one of those included!

To see all of the unique comparisons, just click on the photo below to see a larger version.  It’s really something!

canadapublicstackup

Science Fiction Writers of America Outraged Over Hydra Contract

When we purchase books, many of us probably never think about all the legal things that go on behind the scenes when a book gets published. Last week, however, the Science Fiction Writers of America were up in arms about a new contract idea from Random House that affects their science fiction e- imprint, Hydra. They are not happy, and Random House doesn’t seem to see the problem.

Traditionally, in simple terms, writers are paid an advance from the publishing company as payment for their work. The publisher assumes all costs for printing, binding, distribution etc., and the book is put on the shelves. As the book begins to sell, the publisher is paid until all their costs are recouped and the advance they gave the author has been recovered, and then the author begins to share the profits with the publisher. If costs are not recovered because a book doesn’t do well, an author might never see any more money other than their advance.

ebooks

With this new model, there are differences because of the fact they are an e-imprint (which means no binding etc., but includes different costs such as digital marketing), but they’ve also switched up all the rules. An author picked up by Hydra will have to cover all the costs and will be paid no advance. That means, Random House might decide to pay their editors $5000 if they feel it is necessary, and their marketing team $8000 if that’s what they believe they need in order to make the book successful.  The author has no choice in the matter and must shoulder the costs.  Then, when the book starts selling, both author and publisher share the royalties.  The argument is that the publisher is taking a chance on the author by giving them the opportunity and providing them with the best people in the business, and yet they both get to reap the rewards right from the start.

It seems like it might be an interesting way to do business, and one which some authors would jump at the chance for. But wait…….

The catch is that the author now also loses all rights to their work, too...indefinitely. The publisher asks for all rights, in all forms, for the life of the copyright (which could work out to be 70 years or more after the death of the author). You can see why people are upset.

Last week, there was much uproar over the whole idea, and Random House replied with their own letter to the Science Fiction Authors of America to try to make them see the light. I’m not sure it worked.  It might be more work and cost more money and maybe not net the author the same residuals, but it’s looking like self-publishing might be the way to go to avoid the massive copyright problems. You can read the Random House letter here to see for yourself.

The real problem with this new model, if accepted, is that it might be game changing for the business. What if paper books went the same way? Many authors wouldn’t be able to afford the costs of producing the books and would be forced to release in ebook format only.  If other imprints follow this new direction, the world of publishing is changing, for good or not. Will this be the direction ebook publishers have been longing for since their inception? We’ll have to wait and see.

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