Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Book Branding

paranormalrom

Digital Book World held an online seminar entitled Marketing in the Digital Age. The panelists included Dan Blank, Director of Content Strategy & Development, Reed Business Information (owns Publishers’ Weekly); Patrick Boegel, Director, Media Integration, Media Logic; Jane Friedman, Publisher & Editorial Director, Writer’s Digest Community; and Diana Vilibert, Web Editor, Marie Claire. The moderator, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, showed a slide with 8 book covers including Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. None of the panelists knew all of the publishers of the book and none of them could even identify Dan Brown’s publisher.

I began to think about the branding (or lack thereof) by publishers.

What Is the Brand?

Brand is that name or logo with which consumers identify certain attributes, either positive or negative. The same brand can mean different things for different groups of people. For example, Fox News equal fair and balanced for some segment of the population. For others, it is simply a media arm furthering the political views of Roger Ailes.

Author Branding

Most traditional publishers brand by author.   The goal of the cover is to evoke some coded message for the reader but it hardly ever includes a publisher brand message.   Look at the following three historical covers.   Can you identify the publisher of these books?

historical

romantic-suspense

Compare the above covers with the following:

pubbrand

Each of these three print books have some signifier of the publisher attached to the front. Publisher branding is cheaper for a publisher. Instead of advertising for each individual author, the publisher can spend money on pushing its brand and its collective group for authors. Epublishers use this effectively, creating a consistent visual image for its covers so that if a reader enjoys Author A from Brand Publisher A, she can look for books with the same brand. With Author focused branding, the reader goes and looks for the Author’s backlist.   Of course, if a reader has a poor experience with an author, she’ll be reluctant to try that author again hence the Author Pseudonym.

Harlequin is a leader in publisher branding (and perhaps after whom Ellora’s Cave and others patterned themselves). Their branding, however, is primarily by line.

category

I believe that Harlequin’s branding by line is why the categories are so strict in their guidelines. The publisher is trying to deliver that same spirit from book to book. Thus the downside of publisher branding is that it can be more restrictive. If a publisher is well known for doing one thing well, readers might not seek them out when looking for something else, something different.   I think this might be where epublishers made some missteps.   Romance epublishers are synonymous with erotic romance.   Tamer romance doesn’t sell as well.   I think this is because readers aren’t familiar with those books within epublishing. If Ellora’s Cave or Samhain had created different looks for separate lines of sexual explicitness, they could have created a brand identity for readers looking for the less eroticized books.   Ellora’s Cave attempted to do this with Cerridwen Press, but instead of keeping the Ellora’s Cave brand, they created a separate distinct unit instead of merely extending the brand.

The current setup of author focused branding is very advantageous for authors. When JA Konrath posted the results of his Kindle publishing, many noted that the effort his publisher had put into marketing his Hyperion books was helping him sell the self published ebooks.   That’s exactly why authors who are traditionally published are in a great position.   They can leverage the brand creation and promotion that their publishers are putting forth on their behalf as well as solidifying their direct connection to readers.   When the digital market is the right size, the traditionally published author can decouple from the print publisher with their brand intact.

As a reader, the Author focused brand is challenging because once you are done with Author A, who do you read next?   With publisher branding, the curating is done for you.   You can go to Harlequin Presents for the agnsty, overpowering alpha male set in glamorous international locales.   You can buy a Blaze for the sexy contemporary.   Where line branding hurts is when a reader associates something negative with the brand.   One reader told me she didn’t buy Harlequin Superromances because she thought they were “issue” books. Another reader told me she just wouldn’t buy Harlequin category books because she didn’t have any positive associations with them.    The negative association can prevent a reader from trying the publisher branded book.

With an increasing number of books on the market, the biggest challenge a reader has is finding a good book to read.   Do you rely on Author branding? Do you look to see who the publisher is? Does it matter to you?   How long does it take you to associate something (either negative or positive) to a book brand, whether it be author or publisher (i.e., 1 book, 2 books, etc.)?   Did you get all the publishers right?   If not, here’s the key:

Publishing Key

  • Paranormal Books: Grand Central Publishing, Kensington, Pocket
  • Historical Books: St. Martin’s Press, Kensington, Bantam
  • Contemporary Books:   Grand Central Publishing, Bantam, Berkley

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

43 Comments

  1. Stevie
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 04:19:53

    As a reader, the Author focused brand is challenging because once you are done with Author A, who do you read next?

    At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, most readers on DA think ‘challenging’ is not a synonym for ‘takes thirty seconds to review author’s website to see what books s/he recommends’…

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  2. mina kelly
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 04:49:24

    The epitome of publisher branding for me was Penguin’s orange and white covers. Most of the books bear little resemblance to each other except in terms of formatting and price (I saw Day of the Triffids and I, Claudius standing proudly next to each other the other day), but the covers now have cult status of their own.

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  3. decadence
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 05:22:18

    I don’t buy anything from Aphrodisia. The books are supposed to be hot, but I’ve read a couple that were so-so and one that was pretty crappy. They like to have a little “A” in the top left of their covers which makes them easier to avoid. Most of the ebooks I’ve read from Ellora’s Cave have been pretty good, so I follow publisher branding there but most of the time it’s a combination of the author, cover and blurb. The publisher doesn’t really come into it because their strongest presence is on the spine.

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  4. DS
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 06:19:51

    @mina kelly: I used to look for the green and white Penguin mystery covers. There was an expectation of a certain quality of writing whether the book was by Julian Symons or Edmund Crispin. I still perk up when I see one in a thrift store.

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  5. Gillian
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 07:48:40

    What has helped me to go from Author A to another Author with the same publisher is the Anthology. I’ll buy an anthology because I like just one author and end up a fangirl of two or more by the time I’ve read it.

    Then I search the new to me author’s backlists :)

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  6. RStewie
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 08:01:14

    @Stevie: I don’t agree. I am more apt to check a review site that rated an author’s work well to see what else they have rated well than to check what the author themselves recommend. I might be in the minority here, but (to me) just because I like someone’s writing, that doesn’t mean I will enjoy authors they like to read, too. There’s a distinction there, IMO.

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  7. Jane
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 08:02:51

    @Stevie Do many author websites have recommended reads because I don’t recall that. I suppose the equivalent is the book cover quote. I find those somewhat suspect although other readers may not. I never know if an author really likes the book she is touting or whether she is just handing out the cover quote or recommendation because it is a friend of hers.

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  8. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 08:13:32

    Great post, Jane! I think publisher branding is going to become more common as the big publishers are dismantled into viable niches and marketing resources and channels are spread thinner than ever. Authors are already expected to market themselves these days, so it makes sense for publishers to build their own foundations that can extend an established authors’ reach while serving as incubators for up-and-coming authors.

    Marvel Comics and DC Comics are great examples of strong publisher brands, both from a visual perspective as well as a thematic one.

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  9. joanne
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 08:20:45

    Author recommendations don’t entice me to buy a book because I assume that the author is either promoting another writer from her publisher or that the author likes to read something different than she/he writes. I could be wrong on that of course but that’s my ‘take’.

    I was surprised to realize how many of my favorite authors write for Berkley and now that I know I’m more apt to give a new author a try if they write for that publisher.

    Why does Jane never mention the Harlequin Desire line? It’s a conundrum *g*

    Avon works for me less than the ‘norm’ in Historicals, but I don’t know why just that I’m more careful about buying a book from that publisher.

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  10. Keishon
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 08:37:21

    Excellent post. I use publisher branding for quality especially for mysteries like St. Martin’s Minotaur mysteries I will buy without thinking twice–in hardcover– if the story sounds interesting as that line has given me some great authors like Julia Spencer-Fleming and Chelsea Cain to name a few. I also, usually, recognize Berkley Crime novels when I see them- usually buy them as well because they work for me, too. Same goes for Hard Case Crime, all pulp fiction novels. When you see the covers you know what line they are from immediately. Overall, I do pay attention to publishers but it only plays a somewhat small part in my buying process. Author and blurb and reviews for new to me authors are significant to me as well.

    Edited to add, with publisher branding, it’s either all sink or all swim right? Because even though I enjoy most of Hard Case Crime novels I’ve read, I will still cherry pick the line for good authors. Guess same can be said with any line/imprint. I don’t buy them all.

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  11. GrowlyCub
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 10:21:12

    I disagree with your assertion that the covers show author branding rather than publisher branding.

    I think what they show is sub-genre branding. In this case, paranormal/urban fantasy, historical, contemporary. Any of these covers could be on any other author’s book in that sub-genre and as the SBTB folks show with their cover snark, they often are used repeatedly to signal similar content.

    I’m not sure I have an opinion on publisher branding as a positive; if anything it would make me stay away after some of the truly idiotic things some of the publisher representatives have stated (Avon comes to mind, as does Harlequin with their latest stupidity) or the mindblowing awfulness of some of the offerings I’ve been suckered into buying (EC).

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  12. Amber
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 10:26:14

    I think Avon has a distinctive pub style as well. And that buyers have a certain set of expectations re: everything from the style of writing to the level of spiciness. And there are a few authors w/in those brands that have branding of their own. Julia Quinn and Stephanie Laurens being two that come to mind.

    Other than HQN and Avon (and some of the Erotica pubs) I don’t pay attention to branding by publisher OR author.

    As for author recs, I think there is a big difference between writing a blurb for someone’s cover and writing a couple paragraph recommendation on their website. Blurbs I ignore.

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  13. Edie
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 10:28:06

    I actually pay a lot of attention to publisher branding, in the old days when I would try a lot of new-to-me print authors, if the blurb did not completely sell me, who the publisher was would often sway the final decision.
    And like some others have mentioned, there are some pubs that have disappointed too often in the past, so they would get an automatic miss, even if the blurb was tempting. Again Aphrodesia, I think it was probably around 10-15 books til I completely gave that line up. Mainly as I did find two authors I enjoyed through it, so I was more patient than normal.
    These days I buy mainly e-pubs, and you could say that pub branding is vital there, I only visit certain e-pubs, and I think my publisher cull point is three-four books these days.

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  14. Kalen Hughes
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 10:58:38

    Thus the downside of publisher branding is that it can be more restrictive. If a publisher is well known for doing one thing well, readers might not seek them out when looking for something else, something different.

    This is very true for me. I tried a few HQ category books. Didn't care for them, and don't have any desire to try more. Same goes for Aphrodesia. Clearly whoever picks/edits those books has VERY different taste than I do (with the exception of Jami Alden, who I think belonged in Brava, which I tend to quite like; though now that Kate has left us, I'm not sure that I'll continue to buy that line quite so blindly).

    Also, since I'm more voice-focused as a reader than plot-focused, the idea of a “line” doesn't really work for me. For example, I love Alden's voice, but that clearly doesn't mean that I'll love the other books in the same line just because they're equally hot, or all have alpha asshat heroes, etc.

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  15. Janet W
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 11:01:17

    What an interesting column! I went downstairs to look at my forever favourites and the first thing I saw was my row of Rosemary Sutcliff books, starting with The “Eagle of the Ninth” — along the spine, the entirely reliable Penguin Puffin symbol. A guarantee of a great book, well edited, interesting story — if I were in a bookstore, back in the day, I would buy Puffins knowing nothing more than that.

    Conversely, the brands you mention, HQN & Avon, are beginning to be red flags to ignore the book. They are certainly not reassuring and not, for me, an invitation to buy. When authors I like, and there are many, write for Avon, when I read reviews of their books it is to reassure myself that they have not been fed into the Avon machine where 1st kiss is page x and 1st encounter is page y. Oh, another reassuring and reliable brand: Signet Regencies. Some were sublime, like Balogh’s The Notorious Rake but they were never abysmal. If Harlequin Historicals continue on their path of six word titles and typical covers, not to mention the content, I’ll continue to follow authors like Kelly and Cornick (just to name a few that write for the historicals) but I’ll proceed with caution.

    Publisher branding now is not what it was. A Penguin paperback meant something. A Signet Regency was a guarantee of sorts. You may say yes but that’s what you get with HQN and Avon et al but these days, I prefer to kick the tires. Lastly, whoever mentioned mysteries — those can be reliable places too to find the types of books one enjoys but I’m not up-to-date on mystery publishers so don’t want to say more than that.

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  16. Jane
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 11:32:20

    @Janet W I think it is interesting that you say “Publisher branding now is not what it was.” I agree with you and think that is one way that publishers have lost their way.

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  17. Jane
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 11:35:14

    @Keishon I think you can guess what line they are from. Avon has a certain look to its covers but I am at a loss as to why publishers don’t include some discrete branding on the front cover. Do you remember the foil heart on the Zebra covers (I think it was Zebra).

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  18. Jane
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 11:36:19

    @joanne I don’t read much in the Desire line. I think its because I feel like (and here is where branding hurts) that it is the same type of thing as the HPs but I like the “glamorous” setttings of the HP.

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  19. Jane
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 11:37:58

    @mina kelly I agree! Of course, it is easier to put a publisher brand on the Classics…

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  20. Nadia Lee
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 12:06:58

    @GrowlyCub: I agree with you.

    I can tell by glancing at the covers Jane used which sub-genre I’m dealing with.

    But if you take away the title & author from the cover, I wouldn’t be able to match each cover to its rightful author / title.

    So it’s more about sub-genre branding than author branding.

    I think author branding comes from delivering great stories consistently.

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  21. Keishon
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 12:39:20

    @Jane: Yes, I do. I could also identify Pocket books and Zebra books just from the poor packaging. That was mean, I know but it’s the truth. I refused to buy those books.

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  22. DS
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 12:58:27

    @Jane: Zebra also had the hologram line. I can’t remember any books or authors connected with it but the hologram was noticeable.

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  23. Keira Soleore
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 12:59:31

    Harlequin Historicals do publisher branding by lines and also do author branding with the font of the author’s name.

    Avon has pub branding on the spine, but yes, that discrete symbol on the front cover would be fabulous.

    As far as Sherry Thomas’s cover of Private Arrangements goes, her first cover was fabulous and different. This one is more generic.

    Genre branding is the reason why publishers persist in beefcake covers despite reader complaints against them.

    A successful cover has to have three types of branding (genre, publisher, and author) as well as be representative of the story. It’s a tall order for a cover.

    @Jane:

    @mina kelly I agree! Of course, it is easier to put a publisher brand on the Classics…

    Yes, because the covers don’t have to sell the book. The cover could be plain brown paper with the title and author name in block black ink and still the book would sell.

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  24. Keira Soleore
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 13:01:03

    Actually, I should’ve said…

    A successful cover has to have FOUR types of branding (genre, sub-genre, publisher, and author) as well as be representative of the story. It's a tall order for a cover.

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  25. Jill Sorenson
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 13:20:40

    Digital-only books don’t have spines, so it makes sense that their branding is right there on the front.

    As a reader, I don’t pay much attention to the publisher. As an author, I would rather have my books look similar to each other than have them resemble other books from my publishing house.

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  26. Estara
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 15:16:54

    Author recommendations -well, it depends: Sherwood Smith often reviews books she has read on her livejournal - she explains in detail what worked and what didn’t – much like other reviewers do, and since I’ve come to the conclusion that we have similar tastes, I’m willing to try out authors she recommends.

    Same with those Jo Walton rereads on Tor.com of Fantasy and SF classics she enjoyed:
    http://www.tor.com/index.php?blogger=Jo_Walton

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  27. Carin
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 16:16:46

    I tend to find an author I like and read all of their books.

    For finding a new author… I like anthologies, though it can be a little misleading because not all authors write well in shorter and longer formats. I’ve checked out authors based on author quotes of the covers I’ve liked.

    I’ve used the literature map: http://literature-map.com/ to find authors read by people who like reading authors I like.

    When I first started reading this post my gut reaction was that I read totally by author, but then I remembered my recent love affair with all books Blaze. And that made me remember that I’ve enjoyed several HQN books as well.

    My other source of books is review sites.

    So, I’d say I’m about 50% author based, 25% review based and 25% pub based.

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  28. Jane O
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 16:44:37

    Most publishers have several editors at least, all of whom will have different tastes, so buying by publisher becomes a crap shoot.
    When I’ve run out of books by authors I know I like, I turn to reviews. Then I get a book by the “new-to-me” author from the library -’ asking them to buy it if they don’t already have it or asking them to borrow it from another library.
    I only buy a book more or less blind if I’m stuck somewhere unexpectedly and run out of reading material. That happened last weekend, and yes, I got stuck.

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  29. Janet W
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 17:34:42

    @keira

    Genre branding is the reason why publishers persist in beefcake covers despite reader complaints against them.

    … so even though I and others complain, publishers persist because it moves the merchandise. Is that a correct assessment? Cause it’s not moving books into my shopping cart and it’s making me more reluctant to sample their wares. I am beginning to hate the “all-knowing” voice that tells me how successful a marketer this or that publisher is. I think we learned from Harlequin Horizons that success needs to be measured by more than the bottom line: especially when it comes to loyalty and branding.

    Like Simon and Garfunkel said, I am a rock, I am an island and when it comes to something I love as much as books, I want the marketing to be a helluva lot more subtle. Again, Penguin Puffins: good consistent quality made a BRAND BUYER of me. And it could happen again. Who knows how big I am? What if my feelings were multiplied into infinity?

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  30. library addict
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 17:41:08

    I would say I go most with author branding because if I like an author I will search out their backlist and try their new books. Sometimes I know who publishes them and sometimes I don't. For the most part I don't care.

    I think Harlequin is a different kettle of fish in some ways. Even though I have read a lot of books published by Harlequin and their various lines and imprints that were not to my liking, I never seem to give up on them. All publishers are constantly introducing new authors. But because Harlequin does have its various category lines, it's easy to find new authors there based on whatever type of story you are in the mood for. And once I find an author I like, I will then search out other books by the same author regardless of publisher/line. I think the line branding as well as the fact category books are less expensive make it very easy for readers to try new authors with Harlequin.

    Harlequin and their authors also benefit from the fact I often use eHarlquin.com to shop. There have been numerous times I'll add a Mira or HQN book, or a book from a line I don't often read to my shopping cart because it's one of their featured books on sale and/or I need another book to qualify for free shipping. So the website often brings books to my attention that I would pass by at Borders or Walmart, etc. And if the blurb and/or excerpt sounds interesting I am easily hooked.

    Harlequin is also the only print publisher that has a website where I routinely shop. I will visit the Simon & Schuster/Pocket site, the Random House site, and the Penguin/Berkley/Putnam/Jove site to get info on upcoming books, but I do not use any of them to actually shop for books. To be honest, I'm not even sure they all even sell books via their websites. I believe that's probably the main reason why I don't associate publishers' branding with the books I buy expect with Harlequin and various epublishers.

    And though a favorite author may bring another author to my attention, I wouldn't read another author just because one of my fave authors recommended her. The blurb would have to interest me on its own.

    FTR, I did not pass the quiz – LOL.

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  31. Jackie
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 18:24:44

    I must admit, when I was reading close to 30-60 books per month, I found that most of the books came from the same publishers – Harlequin, Zebra, and Kensington for the most part. (I had a looong commute on a train – I almost finished one Desire by the time I got to work and finished it at lunch time, started a second on the way home and finished it with supper – so this meant I read a lot of series)

    Now, unless it is Harlequin, I do not pay attention to publisher. I do read some series romance, but even that is tapering off. Most of the books I pick are because the author is a favorite or because of a review I read. I read Romantic Times magazine and check out various blogs for recommendations. However, as I am now cutting back on my book purchases big time (from about $300/month to $100) I am being more careful of what I buy. My last trip to the bookstore netted me a bunch of books I could not finish.

    So, all in all, it is author branding that gets to my check book, rather than publisher branding. What will be interesting for me to see, is when I re-organize my book shelves later this month – what publishers will I find?

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  32. Stevie
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 18:45:16

    @RStewie:

    I don't agree. I am more apt to check a review site that rated an author's work well to see what else they have rated well than to check what the author themselves recommend. I might be in the minority here, but (to me) just because I like someone's writing, that doesn't mean I will enjoy authors they like to read, too. There's a distinction there, IMO

    Indeed, that’s your preference, and it works for you; I was moved in part to comment because the notion of the reader as someone so dumb that they think coming to the end of an authors lists of publications is challenging is really not doing readers any favours, particularly coming on the heels of the H Ho debacle.

    Getting humans to Mars is challenging; clearing the National Debt is challenging. Jane’s scenario isn’t.

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  33. Stevie
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 18:55:06

    @Jane:

    I replied to this but it has diappeared; could you please check the slushpile, sorry spam filter, to see if it is there. If not I will redraft tomorrow.

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  34. Caligi
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 19:30:50

    @Stevie:

    Challenges vary in level of difficulty. I find it a challenge to find new authors when I’ve exhausted backlists. I don’t think that makes me dumb, and I resent the implication that it does. I think it makes me discerning.

    Now, that sort of challenge is not as challenging as, say, reforming health care, but it’s still difficult.

    I weigh a number of factors when I buy new authors’ work. I consider average ratings on Goodreads and Amazon, reviews on blogs and past publisher experience.

    For example, a book needs stellar reviews on the internets and from people I know before I buy from Ellora’s Cave, since 9 times out of 10 their books are god freaking awful. However, Samhain has treated me so well that I’ll buy on blurb alone. Avon’s books are almost all the same, so I’ll also pick those up on blurb alone if I want a light, fluffy, predictable wallpaper historical.

    Publisher branding usually counts pretty high for me. I’d say it weighs about the same as reader and blogger ratings.

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  35. Jane
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 20:37:39

    @Stevie I don’t see it in the spam folder.

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  36. liz m
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 01:01:46

    I used to go by Publisher alone, and then by author if it was someone that really stuck in my head. There were five or six that I just bought all of the month’s release. As that branding failed me (ie, the line folded or the publisher went in directions I didn’t want to) I switched to primarily author branding and found I am buying less books. A new author on a line I generally like will get a try. Some lines I don’t buy anything from due to bad experience in the past. A debut author getting huge buzz (Sherry Thomas, for example) will get a purchase from me, but I don’t trust the word of other authors much.

    I find few of my favorite authors have the same taste as I do. There was an exception, an author whose suggestions I always took, but mostly I don’t find author promotion a reliable tool for me.

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  37. liz m
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 01:03:38

    Oh, I forgot – ps, etc –

    I don’t think lack of brand on the cover was a big deal when publishing was print dominated – the publisher was on the spine. The cover caught your eye, you picked it up to look at the spine so at least it was in your hand, which is a step closer to the register. Moving to e-pub, I do think cover branding will rise in importance.

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  38. silvia
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 02:57:56

    I do relay somewhat on publishing branding for my Romance purchases. I’m picky when it comes to Romance, and I mainly use branding to steer clear of publishers or publishing lines where I’ve been burned before.

    I’m pretty far from conservative, but my thoughts on sex in literature is that if you can’t say something well… don’t say it at all. And 90% of the time I find sex scenes campy and corny instead of hot, and so I tend to try to steer clear of publishing lines that stress “erotica” over dialogue and character development.

    I generally use this stick as a no-buy branding rather than a buy recommendation.. as I don’t know of any Romance lines that have limited or no sex scenes, without any religious angle going on (which would turn me right off)… but if I did I’d likely direct my purchasing habits that way… Fear of silly sex ruining the mood is my #1 influence in romance novel selection.

    A lack of publisher branding on covers wouldn’t do much harm when it’s me as the customer – though I’d probably feel the need to skim through the book before buying to test what this publisher considers to be quality.

    Author branding definitely works on me when it’s Urban Fantasy, Horror, or Mystery, but when it comes to Romance I’m universally suspicious. I’ve learned the hard way that just because I like one of their books, doesn’t mean I’ll like the next. There is no such thing as auto-buy authors for me.

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  39. mina kelly
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 07:01:03

    @Keira Soleore

    Yes, because the covers don't have to sell the book. The cover could be plain brown paper with the title and author name in block black ink and still the book would sell.

    But the orange and white (and blue, and green) aren’t their covers for classic books. Most of ones I’ve acquired were first editions for people like John Wyndham. Penguin Classics have their own covers and obvious branding. The Orange and white, at the time, was branding to tell readers that these books were cheap and enjoyable (genre-wise, I’ve seen one site describe the orange as code for “fantastical”, though really it’s anything other than mysteries and kitchen sink).

    I admit, I tend to start with the author when I’m buying a book. Even in print publisher branding’s significantly reduced in significance, so I rarely know who published the book of the moment. With so many major publishers having multiple lines and imprints, it’s hard to keep straight which belongs to who. Penguin, Puffin and Pelican were easily identifiable as lines in the same brand, the branding telling readers they could expect similar quality and attitudes to pricing, even if buying a children’s book.

    (utter aside, but wouldn’t anyone else love to see Penguin resurrect its vending machines at stations and airports? Maybe as POD machines?)

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  40. Eva / TXBookjunkie
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 11:06:12

    I have to admit I rarely notice which publishing company has published a book I’m buying. I think branding is important based on how one buys books. I make my to-buy list based on the summaries in RT Magazine as well as previously read author’s upcoming releases. If it sounds like a interesting book, I’ll add it to my list. At the bookstore, I’ll also glance through the new books section/display. If a cover/title catches my eye, I’ll read the back blurb and maybe a few pages to decide if I want to buy it or not. I usually don’t buy more than a book or two that aren’t already on my to-buy list.

    I can see how branding is more useful for the browsing shopper. I will admit that I avoid publishing lines that I associate with “inspirational” books since I rarely read those. So, if I’m browsing and a publisher has their inspirational line imprint on the front cover I’d most likely skip over it automatically.

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  41. Joy
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 14:44:12

    The most obvious form of branding-by-cover to me was the old Signet Regencies. Very similar look and feel, each one. I knew exactly what to expect when picking one up.

    How I miss those old Signet Regencies.

    ReplyReply

  42. Janet W
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 20:05:25

    @joy … Me too! I didn’t know how great the Signet Regencies were until they disappeared :(

    Check out this link to a great website: they only review Regencies from before 2000: http://hibiscus-sinensis.com/regency/retroread.htm … Amazon is a great source: usually they sell for a penny (plus $3.99 shipping LOL!).

    ReplyReply

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