( Originally Published 1902 )
Once upon a time the advertising man of a moderate-sized retail store thus gave the three essentials that the man who would advertise books should possess:
" 1. A knowledge of books. He must understand the variations of the public's fancy. He must know at least one thing about every book that appears in his ad. He should contrive to find what is new in advance of when it reaches the public eye through the medium of literary journals, thus making his ads up to date. He ought to be a reader and a man of some literary ability.
" 2. A general understanding of the rudiments of proper advertising. He should know the different styles of type, and possess the artist's eye for their proper arrangement. He should know how much space an ad ought to take and, when he has limited space at his disposal, just how much matter will properly fill it.
" 3. An original way of expressing himself."
Clever and apt references to books do more to sell them than anything else.
All who are posted on books and advertising will agree that the three paragraphs above are meaty and true.
When a book is issued there usually are four persons interested in its sale. They are
The bookseller (who confines himself strictly to books). The retailer (who has a book department with other departments).
The author can assist the publisher in the sale of the book by preparing a lot of ads and reading notices assuming that the publisher is going to advertise the book and that either he or the book possesses enough influence to secure reading notices.
The publisher can advertise the book by inserting a reasonable amount of display advertising in suitable mediums. If the book is a popular book, have this advertising placed in popular mediums—if the book is educational, have the advertising placed in educational mediums-if the book is technical, have the advertising placed in technical publications, and so on. The point is to plant the advertising where it will do the most good. The number of reading notices depend to a great degree upon the amount of advertising put forth. Of course, we all know that a good book will command attention from the press although it receives no display advertising.
The advertising of almost every book nowadays is considered by the publisher.
The bookseller, who does nothing but sell books, can afford to be a good advertiser. In the first place he can set aside a percentage of his gross business for advertising purposes—like any other merchant. In the second place he has a series of subjects exceedingly fertile and interesting to write about. And as the average bookseller is a person of some literary attainments with an ability to express himself on paper he usually enjoys his advertising work.
I have often wondered why booksellers did not advertise more. Their towns are their.audiences—their local papers their mediums and many a bookseller would make a good advertising man.
In the retail store the advertising of books has reached a more scientific and permanent basis than any form of book advertising. The retail store advertiser simply puts books on the same basis as any other line of merchandise—he allows so much per cent. (usually three) to the advertising of books—he catalogues a list of well-described items in his ads and once in a while he gets out a book catalogue. In the description of the books is where the writer shows himself. If he knows and appreciates books he can awaken responsive chords within the bosomsof his book readers—if he does not, why, his advertising is as human as a pair of scissors.
Therefore, it follows that Mr. Would-Be Book-Publisher should first know books, then study advertising in its various ramifications.