From Wall Street Journal via Media Info :
Media & Marketing: Book Channel Bound for Internet
By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg
The Wall Street Journal
May 08, 2007
CBS Corp.'s Simon & Schuster book-publishing arm next month will launch an Internet book channel called Bookvideos.tv that will be hosted on YouTube.com and other video-sharing sites. For an industry constantly held back by scant marketing dollars, the plan represents a new and inexpensive digital way to promote books and try to turn their authors into brands.
The publisher is committed to a flight of 40 videos that will be personality- driven rather than focusing solely on specific new titles. The videos, which be produced by TurnHere Inc., based in Emeryville, Calif., will last two minutes and feature such best-selling authors as Mary Higgins Clark, Zane, and Sandra Brown.
"Two minutes is about as long as you can watch something on your desktop before your boss catches you," said Brad Inman, TurnHere's chief executive.
All of the authors will be in the Simon & Schuster stable and many will be favorites of book-club members, who often want to know something about the backstory of the books they read. The videos will address such issues as how authors get their ideas, personal anecdotes about how they became authors, and a sense of who they are as people.
"It's about them and their body of work," said Sue Fleming, vice president, online and consumer marketing for the Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group.
Simon & Schuster declined to disclose the size of the investment, but it is said to be modest by non-publishing standards.
The big challenge, says Carol Fitzgerald, president of the Book Report Inc., a closely held company that operates book-publishing-related Web sites, is whether Simon & Schuster will be able to refresh the content on an ongoing basis, and how it will inform people that new content is available. "Some authors are fabulous writers, but they aren't great at presenting their own work either in audio or video," she adds.
Ms. Fitzgerald notes that most readers don't know which publishers actually publish their favorite authors. "They could say, 'Why don't you have John Grisham?'" she said. Mr. Grisham is published by Bertelsmann AG's Doubleday imprint.
The channel is intended to address one of the most vexing issues facing Web marketers. Internet offerings are now so vast that users often find it difficult to find content they might enjoy. "The idea here is to create a bigger sliver where they can find many authors in one place," said Ms. Fleming.
For now, the publisher says the site will focus purely on its own authors. Whether it someday might invite other publishers onto the site "depends on traffic results and viewer enthusiasm," said Ms. Fleming.
Simon & Schuster, like many publishers, has tested reader interest in book videos in the past. For example, it created four test-kitchen videos for last fall's launch of "Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition."
The publisher also made a book video for Jodi Picoult's latest novel, " Nineteen Minutes," which hit the stores in March. The video, which focuses on the book, served as the centerpiece of a promotional ad campaign that ran on MySpace.com.
Although the videos will be owned by Simon & Schuster, the publisher, in a nod to the free-wheeling digital-video culture, says other sites will be free to link or use the videos in any form. Retailers will have access to the videos, and authors will be able to post them on their own Web sites.
Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.