The relationship between the publisher and the bookseller: fraught, right? Emotionally harrowing? Cantankerous and adversarial? They don’t understand us and we don’t understand them? Maybe not. After all, there has to be a culture of respect between the two sides to keep our respective businesses in business. Working out of the Vintage/Anchor marketing department, I have the fantastic job of keeping our relationship with booksellers more awesome and less face-punchy. Sometimes it’s as straightforward as keeping your ear to the ground and listening to bookseller feedback–and sometimes it’s about developing an unusual promotion that makes both sides want to high-five.
To wit: the smashing team at Knopf Doubleday has just unveiled a ridiculously excellent bookseller contest over at Bookseller Center. See, in a couple of months, Julie & Julia will hit movie theaters—a summer blockbuster for foodies, penned by Vintage author Nora Ephron, that tells the story of Julia Child’s years in France crossed with the story of a blogger trying to live out her Julia Child dreams. The movie stars Amy Adams as blogger Julie Powell, and the incomparable Meryl Streep as the incomparable Julia Child. I know! It already sounds amazing! And we’re extra-thrilled because the movie is partially based on an Anchor Book, My Life in France, by Julia Child, and it features Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published by Knopf.
The contest we’ve cooked up asks booksellers to create a window or in-store display that ties into the movie and features My Life in France, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia. Folks are also welcome to extend the promotion using whatever other resources are at their disposal–and with so many booksellers blogging and tweeting, we expect some smart and unusual techniques. The more they spread the word, the bigger the “Julia moment” gets. And we could all use a Julia moment.
But what does the winner get? Am I burying the lede? Probably. The prize is awesome, and I wish I was eligible to win it myself: the bookseller with the most fantastic, most far-reaching, most brilliant campaign will win a weekend for two in New York City that includes dinner with Nora Ephron. Maybe even a French dinner. Who knows.
I talked to Anne-Lise Spitzer, our Knopf marketing compatriot, who explained how win-win this situation really is. When you have three great books and an excellent movie, you can’t lose! She’s even seen the movie–lucky!–and she told me, “we are pretty confident (and thrilled) that this is going to be the summer of Julia Child. So we wanted booksellers to have some fun with it and pay creative tribute to Julia in their stores.” But what’s the best part? Don’t bury the lede! She added, “They will be rewarded with great sales–even if they don’t win the contest!”
And that’s the stuff right there, isn’t it? Although publishers and booksellers may occasionally bicker like family at Thanksgiving, the fact is that we have a common goal: many books, sold. We succeed with quality titles, they succeed with quality stores. I think everyone can agree that that’s something over which we can all break bread. (And pour wine.)
Meghan Deans is a marketing assistant at Vintage and Anchor Books, where her steady hand and keen eye serves her well in corralling galley mailings and roping sales reports. She likes books very much, particularly she likes to read them. In middle school she was a member of Ski Club. Apparently she is also now on Tweeter: @meghanreads