Are You Shouldering This Responsibility?

Are you an author or a publisher of books? Ask yourself:
Which do I spend more time doing: reading books or watching videos or TV?

While you might not think this is an important question, it is. Since you are in the business of making books, you should also be involved in the consumption of books.

I am in the process of updating my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. While working on the Fourth Edition, I was surprised to discover that it’s not just bookstores that are on the decline. I already knew that reading rates were holding steady while the number of books published each year grows, but I was saddened by another trend I discovered.

Everyone knows that readers have begun buying more books online than they do in physical stores. As a result, bookstores are declining. After all, the largest Christian bookstore chain, Family Christian, shuttered the doors to its 240 stores in February of this year. The fourth largest general market bookstore chain, Book World, which operates 45 stores in the Midwest, will close all their stores in January 2018.

But it’s not just bookstores that are struggling. What surprised me is that church libraries are becoming nonexistent. This year, two of the largest church library associations shuttered their doors. Both associations cite declining membership and lack of interest in church libraries.

My first thought was maybe most churches were simply shuttering their libraries in exchange for church bookstores. However, research shows that this is not the case. While church bookstores thrived in the early part of the century, the number has actually shrunk over the past five years.

Here is the point. If we are publishing books and we want people to read these books, we must also be putting effort into helping people see the benefit of reading and encouraging them to read more.

How do we do this? We start by first modeling—being an example. That means that as an author or publisher you spend time reading books and talking about them with people. Then we move on to encouraging others to read. There are many ways that we can do this. Here are six ideas to get you started:

1. Regularly recommend books to people.
Don’t just recommend the books you write or publish, but talk about any good Christian title that will enrich people’s lives. Give these recommendations in person, on your blog, and on your social media sites.

2. Give books as gifts.
Books have the power to change people’s lives. Give them as gifts to encourage reading.

3. Start a lending library at your church.
If your church does not have a lending library, start one. It does not have to be large, simply a shelf or bookcase will do. Start with your own titles and books by other local Christian authors.

4. Make sure your church’s children’s ministry is stocked with good books.
Check out the children’s ministry rooms in your church. Are they stocked with good Christian books for the kids to engage with? If not, donate some or get others in the church to donate books to the Children’s ministry.

5. Start a book group.
Start a book group in your church or community. Gather interested people to read and discuss a good book once a month.

6. Put up a Little Free Library in your neighborhood.
Little Free Libraries encourage reading. You can find information on how to build or purchase a Little Free Library box on the organization’s website.

I believe that if we write and publish books, we also need to be about the business of promoting reading. Unless we encourage reading on a regular basis, we may wake up one day to find nobody reads books anymore.

Related Posts:
The Demise of the Christian Bookstore
Reading Rates Remain Consistent
Are You Making Use of Fiction Apps?

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Four Creative Ways to Sell Your Books this Season

Books make great gifts. They are affordable, easy to wrap, and cover subjects to suit everyone’s interest. Books are the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.

Historically, about 25% of books sales are made between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This means that people do buy books as gifts. So, don’t miss out on this great opportunity to promote your books as gifts this holiday season and increase your sales.

Here are four creative ways to market your books as gifts this year.

1. Offer a Coupon or Holiday Special.

Send a special holiday coupon for dollars off the purchase of your books to your email list. Post the coupon on all your social media sites and your website to entice people to buy your books this season. Or offer a holiday special pricing such as Buy One Get One or even Buy Two Get One free for your books. Simply offering a limited time special encourages people to buy.

2. Offer a Gift Bundle.

Offer a prepackaged gift bundle to make shopping easy for your readers. Bundle a gift card or a box of chocolates with the purchase of your book. For example, you could offer a $10 Starbucks gift card with your book as a great gift bundle.If you have a devotional or bible study, offer a journal and special pen with the book as a bundle. The ideas are endless; just use your imagination.

Another great gift bundle can be a boxed set. Either create a boxed set of some of your own books, or better yet, partner with two or three other authors to offer a multiple book boxed set with a similar theme. For example, if you have a Christian romance book, then find a few other Christian romance authors and offer your books together as a boxed set for the season. Not only will you sell more books, you will enlarge your audience as each author will promote the set to their fans.

3. Offer a Subscription.

Do you have a book series? If so, instead of selling the entire series to be given at once, offer a subscription. Readers can buy the first book with a subscription to have an additional book in the series shipped each month. Just mail the first book with a subscription certificate. That way, the gift-giver can give a gift that really keeps on giving. This idea works especially well for children’s book series.

4. Exhibit at a Christmas Bazaar or Holiday Event in Your Community.

Many local community centers, libraries, and churches host holiday bazaars and other holiday events. Often you can rent a table for a reasonable fee at these events. Then set up shop and offer your book and book gift bundles to shoppers. If the event is already booked, find out if you can hand out flyers to attendees with information on how to purchase your books. The more exposure your books have, the more sales will follow.

Get creative this year with your holiday book promotions. If you have another idea for creatively selling books during the holidays, I would love to hear about it. Just leave a comment.

Related Posts:
Market Your Book as a Gift
Six Reasons Books Make Great Gifts
Books Make Great Gifts

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Photo courtesy of Visual Hunt.