Monday, November 12, 2007

Horn Book podcast and other unique marketing tools

Grace and I were interviewed by the Horn Book's Lolly Robinson last Spring for the new Horn Book podcast, and the interview is up now. Listen to it here. Thanks to Lolly and Kitty for the invitation to be interviewed!

Podcasts seem to be a growing new way for authors and illustrators (and editors!) to promote their work, and last night I witnessed another exciting marketing tool.

Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon has launched a documentary film series Out of the Book. These are half-hour (approximately) films about notable authors. The first in the series featured Ian McEwan, and the second film which debuted last night at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater featured the late (and great) David Halberstam's The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War.

It was was a beautifully directed and produced film, featuring interviews with David's wife Jean Halberstam and such notable authors as Joan Didion, Anna Quindlen, Bob Woodward, and more. They read aloud passages of the book, and talked about David's life and writing, reporting, and about the Korean War in general. There was also archival footage of the war throughout.

The movie was preceded by a dramatic reading of a passage from the book, and followed by a panel discussion featuring a Korean War veteran who had been interviewed in the book, an author friend of David Halberstam (I apologize for not recalling their names)
, and producer Dave Weich, who also called on the film's director James Lester to comment. Overall, it was such an interesting, different event, and even though I'm not a huge history reader and wouldn't normally pick up a 700+-page book on the Korean War, it made me want to read the book, and others by Halberstam.

I was invited to the event by a friend who is good friends with the producer Dave Weich, who was also the brain child behind the series. But otherwise, I would have never heard of Out of the Book, which is a shame. Dave said that in the past, most book marketing had been text-based, and text is so cerebral and a solitary experience, and he wanted to find a different way to engage readers with the books and authors. The way it works is that the publisher of the featured book/author pays the budget for the film, and the film is shown around the country in partnership with book stores, not unlike an author tour. It seems perfect for authors who don't want to or can't (as in Halberstam's case) tour.

As with podcasts and book trailers, I'm excited that there seem to be novel ways (pun intended) to market books being developed. I'm looking forward to the next installment of Out of the Book (perhaps one day a children's author will be highlighted), and to see what new marketing techniques are developed.


Anna Alter said...

Just listened to the podcast, you guys sounded great! Have you found a lot of authors putting podcasts on their web sites, or mainly organizations like the Horn Book posting them?

Thats interesting about the documentary film, so they showed it in a small independent theater I take it? Was a bookseller there selling books?

alvinaling said...

Well, there's the site that does mainly podcast reviews, and I know Fuse#8 is experimenting with a podcast as well. Not sure yet about individual authors, but there is John Green's Brotherhood 2.0 which are video casts...

As for the film, yes, it was a small independent theater--actually, it's going to be show in the Brattle in the Boston area if you want to check it out! And the event in NY was sponsored by the McNally Robinson bookstore, and yes--they sold books at the theater.

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