Priced to Sell at $6.99.
Chances are if you are at a newsstand, grocer, drugstore, discount chain or warehouse club anywhere this summer, you will be seeing some of the most alluring displays for African American books ever attempted. T at s because Simon and Schuster is hoping that a major roll-out of mass market paperbacks will take the work of six authors who are already top sellers to even higher demand levels. Mass market paperbacks are those small, "rack size" volumes, priced to sell at $6.99. According to Cherise Grant, editor for Simon and Schuster Trade Paperbacks, the promotion targets readers who are not necessarily regulars at traditional bookstores or buyers of hardcovers or higher-quality "trade" paperbacks. The special African American mass-market promotion, which begins August 7, 2001, offers stores six titles in a large display rack featuring all six titles: Five novels--Men Cry in the Dark, by Michael Baisden, One Woman Short, by Nelson George, FID' Girl by Omar Tyree, Good Hair, by Benilde Little, and Li'l Mama's Rules, by Sheneska Jackson, and one nonfiction work, Yesterday, I Cried: Celebrating the Lessons of Living and Loving, by Iyanla Vanzant. "I'm hoping when they see these displays, it will click with them, 'Oh, I've been meaning to read that,'" said Grant. "It will be very easy for someone to pick up and throw in their bag on the way to the beach or on vacation wherever." Grant said that the trade paperback division had been developing a pool of black authors long before it became trendy to do so and that those titles had emerged as readers' favorites. "Each book offers something different for the very diverse African American audience," she added.
Planning for the series began after Tyree's novel, For the Love of Money made the New York Times' and other major best-seller lists about three weeks after it hit stores last August. "We wanted to keep building his name, help his sales grow bigger," Grant recalled. "We started talking about putting his book in mass market"
Tyree recalled that his book remained on the Times' list only about a week, in part because not enough copies of the book were available to sustain the unexpected popularity. "I had been asking for mass-market sales for years and I couldn't get it," he said." I want that extra exposure that mass-market can get. I wanted increased numbers even if it meant cutting the price in half, so I can get more people reading the work. That helps build your reputation as a writer, helps you cross over and become more commercial, so people come back and read your other books."
Grant said brainstorming at Simon and Schuster, about how to "grow Omar to the next level" led to a plan to build exposure for several African American authors who had never been in the mass-market format before. "We're increasing each author's visibility significantly, which will bode well for his or her next hardcover or trade paperback." Nelson George's hardcover novel, Show & Tell, will be published in May 2001, and Omar Tyree's next novel, lust Say, No! is scheduled for release in August 2001, the same month For the Love of money, is scheduled for trade paperback release.
The publisher expects that combining popular authors, a competitive price, enticing displays, and a pocket format will be a successful-enough formula in stores like Wal-Mart or K-mart to warrant replicating in the future. "If one or two books do particularly well in this format, then we have to figure out whether we want to keep that book in this format," she told BIBR. "If all six do incredibly well, maybe this promotion is something we will do again with different authors."
The authors, most of whom were already moneymakers for Simon and Schuster, expressed satisfaction that the mass-market opportunity allows them to compete with the most commercial authors today in high-visibility displays at newsstands, airports and large stores.
"I believe it is important for black writers to have visibility in this arena," said George. "Everywhere books are displayed African American writers must be given a chance to prove their worth."
Jackson, who has been with Simon and Schuster since 1994, looks forward to the release, she said, because "As a writer you want your work seen by as many people as possible. This will open up a wider audience. Mass market is cheaper. I am hoping it will reach people who want to read but can't necessarily afford to. I'm hoping also that it reaches different cultures."
Baisden, who is preparing to host a television talk show and working on another novel, agreed the release would allow him to reach ever wider audiences. "The book was already doing well, but mass market allows more people to buy it, so the more people will talk about it."
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|Title Annotation:||Afrcan American authors highlighted|
|Publication:||Black Issues Book Review|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||May 1, 2001|
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