Help Desk: Marketing Your Books to the Academic Community

helpdeskHeard of American Philosophical Association?  American Library Association?  How about the Association of Study of Higher Education? 

Did you know they and many other associations host about 352,300 conferences and meetings that are attended by professionals who can make purchasing decisions, such as making a wholesale purchases of your book?  list-of-attendees-b

Conference Exhibiting is another way to knock on a backdoor market to reach your readers.   If you’re only exhibiting your books at book conventions you’re missing out on quite a few opportunities. 

For example, from June 22-27, the American Library Association will have its annual conference in Chicago at McCormick Place. 

ALA Officials boast ranking as one of the top trade shows where “More than 8 out of 10 librarians that see your exhibit have the power to put your products and services into their libraries.” 

Are you a primary researcher on a single subject book? Team up with a few other scholars and exhibit your monograph, for course adoption, at relevant academic conference, convention or seminars. 

If one professor adopts your book title for her course that’s guaranteed sales of a minimum of 20 books per class.  If it’s a popular class, sales could be well over a 100+ units sold.   

 Fiction titles can win a sales contract too.  Small publishers such as David R. Godine  list more than a dozen novels that professors have considered for course adoption.    

Major brand trade book publishers such as Penguin Group (USA) have an entire department for academic services.    When I started my career in publishing, I put together cost-effective exhibits for Penguin’s Academic Marketing and Sales department and I also served as an exhibitor at many conferences.  

A few tricks of the trade in exhibiting books at academic conferences include:


1. Attendance| Determine who will be in attendance? Remember you are looking for a back door to your readers. Will decision makers, wholesale book buyers be in attendance? What is the overall expected attendance?

2.    Exhibit Space | Size of booth or exhibit space. Is it high traffic area or out-of-the-way? Electrical outlets ideal for a charging station to gain a captive audience and for social network live feeds. Who are the other exhibitors near your space? Are they competitors or possible partners?  Note: Conference exhibits are also great venues for IRL networking.

3.    Shipping | Intrastate or Interstate costs?  Air travel & local transportation cost – If you prepare well in advance of the conference, ground shipping is the best option,

4.    Event Marketing Collateral:   Display equipment, signage and storage; premium incentives; flyer/catalog production/ advertising in conference guide, books for giveaway and sales; postcards, business cards, etc..

5.    Accommodations/Entertainment| Hotel, dining, local transportation; admission to popular event for more networking opportunities.


Also, keep in mind, major brand trade publishers such as Penguin have storage space for large exhibits displays.  Renting a display and signage may be a more expensive option initially but over time you’ll save on storage rental.  Also, small, self and independent publishers should look to the vertical market or other small publishers for partnerships to share the costs.  

For more on upcoming conferences check out allconferences dot com


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