Magazine Week is scheduled for 17-23 September, see previous post. I have asked a few key people who have been behind the success of World Book Day since its inception, for their advice and the fruits of their experience. Magazines and Books are different but there are surely some parallels.

Jo Henry runs BML which has been very influential in tracking the consumer appeal of WBD. Jo kindly answered some questions that I threw in her direction:

Q1 Is there a key lesson that you have learned from the success of World Book Day?
WBD works because there is a core of very committed, highly professional people within the industry who really believe in WBD as a concept and put a lot of (mostly unpaid) time into making it work year after year. It is a very good example of the way in which the book industry can collaborate to grow the market and create readers. There is also, of course, the essential sponsorship from Book Tokens which underwrites much of the cost and a lot of organizations who provide eg free distribution and printing for the specially chosen £1 books.

Q2 Do you have any advice for the magazine publishing and magazine selling industry?
WBD still has much greater impact in the children’s market, being promoted heavily through schools and libraries to that sector. However, in the last few years efforts have been made (with some success – now over 50% awareness) to reach adults as well. I would suspect that having a core audience in mind would be helpful as you launch.

Q3 A day or a week? Plusses or minusses?
In fact the voucher redemption scheme (£1 book tokens send to every school child in the country which can be redeemed against the £1 books or used as a discount voucher against another purchase) runs for almost a month, and whilst there is a concentration on the day itself, schools and shops do run the campaign over long periods. Shops find it difficult to sustain for longer periods, however, as their promotional calendars get very full, but on the other hand you risk missing lots of people if you only go for a day.

Q4 Has the international side to World Book day been important to its success in UK and Eire?
No one seems to take much notice of this. We don’t use the same day as other markets and we don’t use the same theme (give a book on World Book Day for example, used I believe in Spain).

It sounds as though WBD success, like many other marketing triumphs, is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Jo’s advice on having a ‘core audience’ in mind is very helpful. The Spanish tip is interesting and possibly more relevant to magazines than to books. Book Tokens won’t work for magazines since we do not have Magazine Tokens, but perhaps the theme of developing magazine week as the week in which one buys a magazine for a friend …… that could work. It could have that concrete ‘call for action’ focus of the ‘Book Token’ scheme.

I am sounding out one or two other luminaries of the book trade, so there may be more advice from this quarter.