Just for Bookworms: The Book Business and Direct Mail


Just-for-Bookworms-The-Book-Business-and-Direct-MailThe rise of e-readers does not mean the death of paperback books, but it does mean booksellers need to rethink marketing campaigns. Direct mail can be a great way to update campaigns, whether you’re using publishing house catalogues, direct book shipments to book clubs, or other methods.

Know the E-Reader Market

Many books simply are not available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or other e-readers. If customers can buy it cheaper and get instant delivery on their e-readers, they will. A huge advantage of direct mail for paper books is quick delivery of books that have no electronic version, or whose electronic version is more expensive than discounted hardcopies.

Modern popular fiction had a large market on e-reader formatting, but many older or works dependent on images do not. Children’s books are often preferred in hardcopy for the sake of large pictures and durability compared to e-readers. Realize that the book market is not flat. It is complex and multi-faceted. Certain audiences prefer e-readers while others cannot stand them. E-readers have yet to successfully market to academics who must constantly cite hardcopies. 


Some book clubs and services offer direct mail subscriptions that mail monthly books in the reader’s favorite categories and charge a flat monthly fee. Some subscriptions may reduce their rate by requiring book returns with purchases. Keep the book and the service will automatically charge the subscriber a low rate. Return the book and face no cost above the regular subscription. 

Subscription services offer a great incentive for book-lovers to keep up with the latest books in their area of interest. These services can also offer magazine subscriptions and gift options. Taunt customers with freebees and hook them with great customer benefits. Layering your benefits encourages additional subscriptions to more services. 

Offer Media Variety 

While focusing on hardcopy books, offering other services can augment book sales and subscriptions. If people know there are additional benefits to subscriptions, they will be more attracted to your business. Offer magazines, catalogs, CDs, and movies on subscription. Customers may be expected to return these media or keep them at an additional cost. Other services like Amazon, Netflix, and iTunes offer some common features, but you can provide a unique combination of services with benefits that customers cannot find anywhere else. For example, there is yet to be a library-like service for hardcover books that functions in the same way as Netflix or Redbox, and even libraries loan DVDs and audio CDs.

Market a Narrow Audience 

You can certainly go for breadth, offering a bit of everything, but you may want to consider a narrow target audience. Discover their literary needs. Offer discounted subscriptions to their favorite magazines or borrowing rights. Provide direct order book borrowing or purchases that are hard to find elsewhere. Make your company stand out by offering a distinct service. 

Offer Pre-Releases

Publishers want to keep making money on hardcopies, as well. Help them make money by striking a partnership that guarantees readership. If you provide a service that mails the latest sci-fi or fantasy books to readers at discounted rates or borrow-only privileges, you can offer publishing companies quick readership and widespread advertisement for their books. If you can offer subscribers advanced access to books that have not yet hit the market, they will flock to your service.

These tactics are springboards into new direct mail book marketing campaigns. People want convenience. They want services to come to them. Offering efficient services to put books in people’s hands quickly and at low cost is an attractive alternative to spending large amounts of money continually buying books.

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