A HarperCollins Holiday Pop-Up Bookstore: ‘Innovation-Driven Environment’

Image - iStockphoto: Volhah
Image – iStockphoto: Volhah

Lean, Light, And Timely

On New Year’s Eve, it will be history. The Holiday Pop-Up Store closes at midnight Eastern on December 31.

But it will have been another of the tests that HarperCollins (HC) has launched, as it sifts through various avenues of D2C potential — direct to consumer.

You still can access the store through the end of the month. Snowflakes drift down the page, over signed editions, limited-quantity offers, several “sold out” notices. The offering comprises fewer than 50 items.

The signed edition of Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, for example, has gone fast. So has its companion, Allegiant, along with Amy Poehler’s Yes PleaseA collector’s edition of Roth’s Divergent still is in stock, however.

If you’re flashing across a lot of Christmas gift sites, the HarperCollins Holiday Pop-Up Store might strike you as interesting and spacious, but not unusual. In publishing, however, this represents a digitally-driven development and we probably can expect to see more such instances in the coming year as major houses look for ways to cultivate a relatively new direct relationship: with readers.

Angela Tribelli
Angela Tribelli

In fact, it might be a mistake to think of the HC Pop-Up Store as a sales initiative. Angela Tribelli, chief marketing officer, tells me otherwise:

The pop-up store – the items we feature, how we present and merchandise them – is as much a form of marketing as it is a form of commerce. During the busy holiday season, we need to create urgency and draw consumers’ attention to our products, and the pop-up succeeded in doing that.

One of the key elements here is focus. On its own site, HarperCollins doesn’t have to negotiate with a bookstore or major chain of stores to position some of its more singular offerings on a front table. The publisher has control in this digital space.

And there’s a secondary but maybe equally important advantage here: “the rest of the store” is gone. By that I mean that if HC can get you to its store’s URL, what would be the surrounding visual “noise” of other publishers’ books and products in a physical store have dropped away. Competition is fiendish going in, yes, but if the publisher can get you to stop at the site for a moment, its attractive, uncluttered layout and colorful book covers in this curated selection might just have a better chance of snagging your interest.

In general, having our own commerce-enabled site allows us to spotlight our books and authors, as well as to test new products. Transactions can take place with us or other retailers but, overall, everybody benefits from the increased consumer exposure.

That note of teamwork — “everybody benefits” — is important to any publisher testing the D2C waters, of course. Partnerships, alliances are everywhere in publishing, which is, in fact, part of the reason that for decades publishers weren’t in direct sales contact with readers but with distributors and stores’ book buyers.

Today, few players in publishing don’t understand that publishers simply must cultivate reader relationships with all the creativity they can muster. One of the chief Amazonian advantages is its deep penetration into the consumer psyche as the go-to spot for browsing and purchases, after all. Publishing’s responses to such online inroads need to offer their own attractions, hence the specialty approach we see here.

But few publishing executives are better than Tribelli — who will be speaking again this year at the Digital Book World conference, January 13-15, #DBW15 — at clarifying the fact that her own company’s efforts in consumer outreach are never meant to exclude the existing, friendly channels of commerce already in place.

When I ask her if other retailers might not have had access to the Pop-Up Store items, Tribelli tells me that no, exclusivity was not a factor here:

The goal of the pop-up store was to use our direct-to-consumer capabilities to test consumer interest in signed editions and other book-related merchandise as limited-time or limited-quantity offers, not to restrict retailer access to those items. In fact, we participated in a signed-edition holiday programs with Barnes & Noble and the ABA [the American Booksellers Association].

Read More

There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: HarperCollins’ Holiday Pop-Up Bookstore: An ‘Innovation-Driven Environment’ 

Originally published by Thought Catalog at www.ThoughtCatalog.com



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