Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Review Copies to Readers, not Newspapers

I first encountered McSweeney's at BookExpo America three years ago. Their look, their vibe, everything about them appealed to me, right down to their tiny little 10 x 10 booth outfitted with flea market furniture. I wanted to touch every one of their books.

They had run out of catalogs and were taking names to follow up. I chose to check them out online and ended up subscribing to everything they offered. I got the most creative and bizarre quarterly mailings--one being like a Sunday paper where everything was printed like a newspaper insert; another was a retro wartime theme with a vintage cigar box. Some very cool and creative stuff. I also subscribed to The Believer magazine which is chock full of great writing. And I got the first edition of Wholphin, a DVD "magazine" with some of the most interesting and entertaining video clips and short features I've ever seen. Terrific stuff. I let my subscriptions lapse after a year though. They were quite expensive but even worse was the guilt I felt because I could never read everything they sent me. I just didn't have time and I hated being reminded of it.

Yesterday I read a hilarious blog post by John Warner, editor of McSweeney’s online, author of So You Want to Be President? and Fondling Your Muse, and creative director of TOW Books. John chronicles some of the mishaps and struggles of launching a new book imprint and also explains why he’s rejecting the age-old strategy of sending review copies to newspapers, and is offering them directly to readers instead.

I've been trying for ten minutes to grab excerpts to post here but he's done such a good job that you really need to read John's entire post.

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