Digital publishing stirs up BookExpo America 2011, makes online publicity even more imperative

Digital publishing stirs up BookExpo America 2011, makes online publicity even more imperative

- By Samantha Rideout, Journalist

Lugging my suitcase of book samples from BookExpo America to my hotel room every day in New York was a chore. However, there were a few titles which weighed far less than others; compact discs, web addresses and USB sticks loaded with E-books took very little space or effort to carry and I was happy to have them tucked in with all my soft-covers. The next time I go on vacation I'll pack light and still have all my holiday reading.

However, to a number of BEA's attendees e-books were not a handy alternative or supplement to traditional books. Instead, they were a visible source of anxiety. I noticed this on the first day, when the American Booksellers Association held a series of professional development workshops. Some booksellers were concerned that bookstores might someday go the way of the record label. Personally, I'm not yet convinced they will and even if they do, I foresee plenty of activity in the book industry. Since I work for Substance Books, an online book publicity company, I asked my senior colleague Hajni Blasko what digital publishing means for book publicity.

"I think it could be good for our independent author and publishers clients," she said. "Digital publishing levels the playing field even more than self-publishing did, because it's even less expensive. Authors and publishers would do well to take the money they save on printing and put it towards publicity."

She went on, "Since e-books usually don't have a physical presence on a bookshelf anywhere, it is imperative for authors and publishers to get exposure online."

Hajni had pinpointed exactly the challenge we are helping our clients to surmount: getting attention for their books in a tsunami of book buyer choices. Some authors simply write something wonderful, put it on Amazon or a similar website and expect the world to notice. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

Substance Books has always been ahead of the game. Having pioneered online book publicity even before e-books arrived on the scene, Hajni has had plenty of time to study the relationship between digital publishing and online publicity. When combined, she says, they can be a powerful force. "The great thing about publicizing your e-book online is that customers can buy and get it right away, as soon as they find out about it," she explains. "There is no ‘gotta get around to it’ factor imposing itself between you and your customers."

During the remainder of BookExpo America, I did end up meeting some people who were excited about new developments in the book industry. There was even a Digital Book Zone on the floor and a digital Book and Bloggers conference in the basement.

I noticed that, regardless of whether attendees were delighted or disquieted by e-books, we all had something in common: we loved books and wanted to get great ones into the hands of readers. This insight made me happy to be at BEA spreading the word about online publicity, one important piece of the puzzle that makes it all possible.


The most effective publicity campaigns advance on several fronts, including online listings, networking, expos and media exposure.

If you're interested in promoting your book with the help of a journalist an online book publicity expert, then you're welcome to contact me at In doing so, I will draw on my experience as a journalist for various magazines including Reader's Digest.

Montreal Canadian Editor &  Book Publicity Assistant
Editor & Book Publicity Assistant
    "I'm a freelance magazine writer, editor and translator. My work has appeared in the UC Observer magazine, the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph and La Scena Musicale. I also freelance for Reader's Digest magazine as an editorial fact checker and researcher. My university degrees are in journalism, world religions and Icelandic literature.

Before I decided to work with words, my adventures ranged from cattle farming to teaching music. As a curious person, I love to travel, explore cities, meet new people and of course, read day and night. I'm very pleased to be joining the Substance Books team as the Literary Marketing Assistant. I'm looking forward to working with the authors and discovering some great new books to read."

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