Publisher's Weeklyreports on HarperCollins's plans to revitalize paperback original book sales with some interesting marketing initiatives.
HarperCollins, through its Avon and HarperTorch mass market imprints, has quietly entered the premium paperback field and added a new twist in the process. After publishing Serpent in the Crown by Elizabeth Peters in the premium format in March with a 250,000 printing, Avon released Philip Margolin's Lost Lake in May as the first in its premium plus initiative. The plus program, which ties into HC's Author+ initiative, allows buyers of Lake to register online for a free copy of an HC "pick of the month" (currently William Lashner's Fatal). "We thought it was a good way to give extra value to the format," said Liate Stehlik, who took over as Avon publisher in November. About 500 readers signed up for the free book in the first week Lake went on sale.
Avon has three more premium plus titles planned: J.A. Jance's Long Time Gone will come out in August; Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard will be released in September; and Anne River Siddons's Sweetwater Creek will be out in January.
The premium plus effort coincides with the release of Avon's e-book epilogues to two Julia Quinn books (PW Daily, June 6) and is part of Avon's effort to give a spark to mass market sales. The two epilogues sold a combined 1,588 units in the first 24 hours through just the harpercollinsebooks.com site and more than 3,000 units through mid June. Later this year, Avon will release Stephanie Laurens's To Distraction as an e-book on August 15, two weeks before the print edition. The e-book will have some added content and is aimed at building buzz for the print edition. "We're thinking about other ways to use e-books," said Stehlik, who observed that romance readers tend to be Web savvy and very loyal to their favorite authors.
HarperCollins continues to lead the market in adapting to new technology: we like it. And so do younger readers.