Re: RARA-AVIS: Short and cheap

From: hardcasecrime (
Date: 14 Oct 2007

> In fairness, though, Charles, how do you market Hard
> Case Crimes? I live in northern Massachusetts and buy
> all my Hard Case books through Amazon. They're simply
> not available in stores. I've never seen them in a
> book store in this neck of the woods.

That *is* a fair question, and unfortunately it's a tough one for me to answer with confidence, since the direct marketing of our books to stores is done by the salesforces of Dorchester Publishing and Ingram, and I don't oversee their work myself. That said, I believe they do an awful lot of it -- I've attended a few sales meetings, talked to the salespeople, seen the selling materials they create, looked at their travel schedules, and these guys (and women, no gender bias intended) really do go up and down the country (and Canada), meeting with hundreds of bookstores and stores of other sorts, trying to get them to carry our books. And my impression is that they're generally quite successful. Certainly in the New York area I see our books in many stores. I do hear some people say, as you're saying, that they can't find our books where they live, but I also hear from people in areas I'd consider fairly remote (i.e., not only major urban centers) who write to tell me they saw our books being sold at the local supermarket or drugstore. So I'm guessing the coverage of the country is somewhat spotty, but I don't think it's for lack of trying.

The other side of marketing, of course, is "awareness" or brand marketing. We don't have the money to run ads (we did a small amount of this when we launched, but that was 3 years ago), but we benefit from a great deal of publicity, having been written about in magazines and newspapers (and featured on television programs) that reach literally tens of millions of U.S. households. Parade and USA Weekend alone reach almost every household in America, and they both wrote about us; the New York Times and Reader's Digest and USA Today and Playboy and Time magazine are each good for a few million readers apiece (with some overlap, of course). All this coverage has been spread over a 3-year period, and though the greatest portion of it came at the time of our launch (that's when our mere existence was newsworthy), there's been some more or less every few months since.

That's a brief snapshot of how we market our books -- if you have other questions about this, I'll be glad to give more information.
(On the other hand, I don't want to bore everyone on the list who'd much rather be fighting over the definition of 'noir' than listening to all this business talk...)

> If you put them in wire, rotating racks in stores
> where comics and magazines are sold, in bus
> stations and airports, etc; if you put them around
> like the old Dell Paperbacks, and Gold Medal, and
> Ace, and Pyramid, you'd sell a lot more copies.

Maybe -- maybe not. Alas, it looks like we'll never find out because though we've pitched exactly this sort of thing to numerous retailers
(in both cardboard "standing dump" form and wire "spinner rack" form) almost no retailers have been willing to take us up on it. They are just unwilling to devote the precious floorspace to this sort of thing. They don't think they'll make enough money, and who knows, maybe they're right.

> Right now, you have no impulse market, at
> least where I live. Maybe they're all over New York
> City, but in the burbs, if you don't already know
> about Hard Case Crime, you're not likely to learn
> about these books

I do know that they're carried in most (not all) Barnes & Noble and Borders stores -- so any suburb that has one of those is likely to have our books in it. That said, those stores have tens of thousands of other books in them, too, mostly shelved spine-out -- so unless you go in specifically looking for a given publisher's work (whether Hard Case Crime, Harlequin, HarperCollins, or Harcourt), it's not likely to leap to your attention.


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