Outdoor Libraries

Take a book, leave a book. In an effort to promote literacy and reading, “free-for-all” libraries are popping up in Germany. These small outdoor bookshelves, placed on street corners, city squares, and in supermarkets, are financed by donations and cared for by local volunteer groups.

In these free-for-all libraries, people can grab whatever they want to read, and leave behind books for others to read. There’s no need to register, no due date, and you can take or give as many as you want.

Most of these outdoor library bookshelves (they have glass doors to keep the books dry in inclement weather) in Germany hold around 200 books and it takes about six weeks for a complete turnover, with all the old titles replaced by new ones.

Interestingly, organizers of one free-for-all library shelf in Cologne, Germany, report that they have had few problems with vandalism or other kinds of abuse. The few they have experienced include a used-book seller scooping up every volume on a shelf to sell at a flea market and the shelves being stacked with material from a religious group.

I think these public library bookshelves are a fascinating idea. They are a wonderful way for sharing books. I would use one if there was one near my neighborhood. Would you?

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Doing It Right

Book reviews open doors for book sales. In my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, I state that “Book reviews are an essential element of any book launch and marketing campaign. Reviews generate the interest of book buyers and provide publishers with a great low-cost marketing tool.”

Pre-publication book reviews in journals geared toward book buyers and librarians are a good way to get information out about your book as it is being launched. However, these publications require that you submit your book a minimum of 3 to 4 months prior to your street date (the date your book goes on sale) for review consideration.

I find that many new small and self-publishers don’t give themselves this type of lead time. These new publishers are so eager to get their book selling, that they skip this important step. Each month when I get my copy of review journals geared toward Christian book buyers, I look for reviews of books by small publishers. I rarely find them.

Susanne T. Schroder wrote, illustrated, and published a Christmas story titled The Donkey’s First Christmas for children. Susanne wanted to “do it right.” After consulting with me, she pushed the street date of her book back four months so that she could work on getting pre-publication reviews.

Guess what? She was successful. Susanne secured pre-publication reviews for her new book in three book review publications: Publishers Weekly in September, Christian Retailers + Resources in October, and Christian Retailing in November.

Simply by being patient and changing the date of her book release, Susanne garnered a whole lot of free publicity and had her book information placed in the hands of many book buyers and librarians. If you plan right, you can do this too.

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Small Business Saturday

Did you know that Saturday, November 26 is Small Business Saturday? This day was started last year by American Express in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: creating more demand for their products and services.

American Express believes that small business success is critical to the health of the US economy. Small businesses have generated 64% of the new jobs created over the past 15 years. To encourage consumers to shop at small businesses on Saturday, November 26, American Express is offering consumers who use their American Express cards at a small business on that day a $25 statement credit.

Whether you accept American Express cards or not for purchases of your books and products, you can capitalize on Small Business Saturday.  Here are some ideas.

  1. Raise consumers’ awareness of Small Business Saturday via your website, your social media interactions, and your email messages.
  2. Offer a special for Small Business Saturday to encourage consumers to patronize your business on that day. Your special could be a discount for the day, or a buy one get one deal, or offer a free shipping special.
  3. Post the special on your website, in your social media interactions, and in an email blast to your customers.  Be sure to share your special deal here with me and my readers also. You can also list your special on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page (under “For Your Biz”) at http://www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday where there are over 1.5 million fans.

American Express is also providing graphics you can use to encourage consumers to shop at small businesses on Small Business Saturday. They have additional programs and incentives for small businesses that are American Express Merchants (those that accept American Express cards).

Take advantage of Small Business Saturday to encourage your existing and potential customers to begin their holiday shopping by supporting a small business.

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