The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Deals of the day

I think the brain fuzz is lifting, so here I am with the first non-NPR Books post in ages.  As you are all too aware, we — authors, publishers and booksellers alike — have been racking our brains trying to figure out how we can use existing, emerging and evolving social networks and other websites to promote and sell books.  So it was only a matter of time, I suppose, before someone jumped on Groupon.

Groupon, of course, is the site du jour: Google is supposedly chomping at the bit to acquire it, although some have questioned whether businesses can actually make money with it.  (Although don’t ask me about the numbers because math never was my forte.)  You may use Groupon, or any one of a slew of similar sites including BuyWithMe, LivingSocial, Yipit and Zozi. (Clearly not people we would want coming up with our book titles.)  Or, if you’re like me, you might have bought a Groupon(s) but never used it.  Then it expired and you lost the money.

This morning, Shelf Awareness ran a piece about a handful of independent bookstores taking issue with a large publishing house’s use of Groupon: in typical Groupon fashion, the house offered consumers 50 percent off their purchases.  The stores were out of sorts because they felt this cut them out of the picture (since no bricks-and-mortar store can afford to offer such steep discounts).

Personally, I’ve cooled on these “daily deal” sites.  Having signed up for what appears to be all of them several months ago, I’m now inundated daily with AMAZING DEALS!  Every day!!  Who knew I possessed the ability to ignore so many discounts?  Or that bargain shopping could be so hard?  (Although I do think interest-specific sites like Zozi — geared toward active consumers — can be slightly more effective in keeping users’ clicking.)

But what do you think?  Can we use these sites to get more books to more readers?  And is it more effective for the publishing houses or for individual bookstores to offer the discounts?  Have you used a Groupon (or other similar deal) at a bookstore?  Would you?


December 2, 2010 - Posted by | Online Marketing


  1. On the one hand I can understand the indie seller’s frustrations. Its already hard enough to attract new customers or finding deals that make it worth their while instead of just clicking on the internet.

    But for someone like me, or for my friends who are teachers, this was a great deal. My one friend is now able to buy the reading assignments books she needed for her whole English class by buying two of those tickets. Her school said it wasn’t in the budget to buy new books, but for $40 she got them.

    Comment by Lexie C. | December 2, 2010 | Reply

    • Interesting. Thanks for the feedback!

      Comment by Yen | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. I had no idea any of this existed until now, so I shall certainly explore, and examine the sense of experimenting, depending on the customer profile… who are the people using this method of purchase and are they likely to like my books. That sort of thing. I am very glad you made me aware of this angle.

    Comment by Rosanne Dingli | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  3. Can we use these sites to get more books to more readers?
    It depends. If your question is whether people (who define themselves as book readers) will read more books because they got a group buying deal, then I don’t think so. A book is not like a restaurant meal … it takes time (often days) to consume and so people are much less sensitive to price and are much more focused on getting a good book to read.

    However, if your question is whether more people will buy books as a result of getting a good deal then the answer is yes.

    It’s probably a matter of time before some entrepreneur (or big publishing house) comes up with the idea for a group buying site focused exclusively on books.

    But bear in mind that if a person is a bargain hunting book lover then that person already has another low cost option in the form of book lending libraries …

    So ideally, such a group buying site for books would work for hard covers / coffee table books which people tend to collect as souvenirs or give as gifts. Or it might work for children books.

    Is it more effective for the publishing houses or for individual bookstores to offer the discounts?
    It can work for both. With a publishing house, there is a feeling that you are limited by the amount of choice (although with Simon and Schuster you’ve got over 35,000 titles.) It might work better for individual bookstores since you get to walk into a bookstore and get a good deal. The store benefits because of additional traffic.

    Have you used a Groupon (or other similar deal) at a bookstore? Would you?
    Although I’ve not used a Groupon coupon, I definitely would use it in the future.

    Comment by Vikram | December 3, 2010 | Reply

  4. There will always be shoppers who value a deal, and if their discretionary income goes to books instead of mexican takeout, dermabrasion, or brazilian blowouts (all frequent Groupon subjects), all the better for the publishing industry.

    I think this could also a great way to encourage readers to try out a new author. The $$$ risk of trying a new author is lower, and the excitement of the deal will probably encourage them to buy more than they would have ordinarily.

    Who hasn’t borrowed a book, or received one as a gift, and then searched out more by the author? Groupons are time-limited,so by the time the reader decides they want to read more of that author – where can they go for instant gratification? Their local bookstore (or Amazon, but that’s a whole other post.)

    Comment by Lisa M | December 6, 2010 | Reply

  5. I simply wouldn’t use it because:

    (1) I wouldn’t be willing to sign up (to voluntarily get spam, admitted requested spam, each day);

    (2) I don’t hand out my credit card number easily online, and certainly not to an organization like this;

    (3) Discounts are already available via publisher promotions, Amazon, remainder dealers like ERH;

    (4) Libraries, as one of your previous posters pointed out, are the best discounted house of all;

    (5) I don’t want to be rushed into buying something by anyone.

    Comment by Lauren | March 19, 2011 | Reply

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