Tuesday, August 15, 2006

In Defense of Starbucks and Mitch Albom

At first I was a little upset by the announcement that Starbucks would be selling copies of Mitch Albom's new novel FOR ONE MORE DAY. This was to be the first book in a planned program where Starbucks would offer their customers a new book every month which they could purchase along with their half calf double caf mocha lattechinocaf. Putting aside any snark about just who buys coffee at Starbucks (and who buys books by Mitch Albom), many heads shook and teeth gnashed at the selection of Albom's novel.

"We don't like Albom," they cried. "He's sanctimonious, his books are manipulative, the book would have been a bestseller anyway, he doesn't need the help, and he has really bad hair."

Yeah, but damn do his books sell a lot of copies. So somebody's likin' 'em, whether the literati approve or not (I don't think these people like Dan Brown much either).

And that's why, the more I think about it, the Starbucks/Albombucks synergy is a good thing. Not just to add a few cents to their respective bottom lines, but because it could open up the possibility of other, lesser known authors reaping the benefits as well.

Here's why:

When a company starts a new initiative, they want to start with a bang, not a whimper. You want to entice as many customers as possible. By appealing to the largest number of potential customers, and making sure those customers go home satisfied by offering something familiar, they'll be more apt to try your next product as well, even if they're not as familiar with it.

So Customer A walks into Starbucks and buys a copy of FOR ONE MORE DAY along with their frappuwhatever. Customer A reads the book. Customer A likes the book. Customer A goes to sleep with a big happy smile, dreaming of Mitch Albom in a purple leotard.

One month later, Customer A (having been through intense therapy to get over an unhealthy obsession with Mitch Albom), walks into a Starbucks. Customer A is about to order a Mochaplopaccino, and notices a new book for sale. It's called A MONKEY NAMED PHILBERT.

The customer has never heard of the author, or Philbert. But Customer A says, "Hey, the last book I bought here was written by Mitch Albom and I really liked it. These people have good taste and seem to know what I like. I think I'll buy a copy of A MONKEY NAMED PHILBERT."


So if it takes FROM ONE MORE DAY to get a customer to take a chance on A MONKEY NAMED PHILBERT, that's a-ok with me.

And wouldn't you kill to see a "Joe Konrath Visits 10,000 Starbucks" tour?

7 Comments:

Blogger Sarah said...

I am going to be disturbed forever by that picture.

And I see your point - especially since Albom appeals to a sector of the American population who bears little resemblance to the folks I tend to hang out with, so they're more likely to pick up the brand name and go from there. But I dunno. Even Patricia Cornwell would have been a better choice...

1:34 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I'd be terrified to see Joe Konrath on that much caffeine... Having met the man, I can safely say that.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Bernita said...

Think this is an excellent marketing thingy- but I agree with Susan.
~shivers~

9:31 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I used to listen to Mitch Albom's radio show in Detroit many years ago before he got so famous. It was shocking to see his book released, so different from his radio persona, a cult of personality.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Allison Brennan said...

I agree with Jason. I didn't quite get the Mitch Albom release (but I wanted it to be a venue for fiction, surprise). BUT people are not used to buying their books at Starbuck's. I don't think an unknown title would launch the program successfully. Their first choice was probably THE DAVINCI CODE, but since everyone in the country has read THE DAVINCI CODE (except me) it probaby wouldn't sell as many copies.

Seriously, I think there's a lot of potential with sales in a non-traditional outlet. If it's successful they may do something a little bigger, like the breakout shelf at Target that takes something like 20 titles across a bunch of formats and genres. So you might have a Starbucks monthly mystery selection, a romance selection, a selfhelp selection, etc.

I can dream, right?

11:27 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Jenna Glatzer said...

I think you make a great point. Similar to the people who've complained about how much promo J.K. Rowling gets, without giving much thought to the great trickle-down effect-- kids who read and love her books aren't just picking up a love of Harry Potter. They're picking up a love of reading, period. Just about anything that encourages people to buy and read more books is A-OK with me!

4:10 AM  

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