Harper Book Sense Backlist Promo a Success for Booksellers & Publisher

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This past fall, HarperCollins Publishers' backlist promotion "Harper Celebrates Six Years of Book Sense Selections" benefited both booksellers and publisher. Participating retail accounts earned an extra discount when they promoted select Harper backlist titles that had appeared on the Book Sense lists. "The promotion ranks as one of the more successful retail promotions we ran last year," said Jeanette Zwart, vice president of field sales for HarperCollins. "We were very, very pleased with the results."

To participate, a bookseller's promotion had to run for a minimum of two weeks, between September 15 and November 3, 2006. In return, stores received an additional five percent discount and free freight on the titles for feature placement promotion.

"There's no better way to give independents the kinds of books they can sell best than by selecting from the universe of Book Sense Picks," Zwart said. "The timing for selling it was also perfect; we did so in the fall to coincide with the regional trade shows. We were confident that these titles, with proven independent bookseller support and sales history, were perfect for backlist promotions.... Reps reported that they were particularly successful in selling in this promotion because the titles were former Book Sense Picks, making it essentially a promotion of bookseller-endorsed titles rather than just another publisher-branded promotion."

From the bookseller perspective, it was a "very good special," said Boulder Bookstore inventory manager Arsen Kashkashian, who added, "We created about a 10- to 15-title display. We were looking to find titles that sell well and then stock up -- to just run further with something that already sells. The special featured a number of those kinds of titles."

Kashkashian said the promo significantly spiked sales on the store's featured titles, including Over the Edge of the World (Laurence Bergreen), The Known World (Edward P. Jones), Fancy Nancy (Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, illustrator), and Once I Ate a Pie (Patricia MacLachlan and Katy Schneider, illustrator). Another bonus, he said, was that he could check the Harper titles' performance on Above The Treeline to streamline the ordering the process. --Karen Schechner