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Is giving away a bundle of Kindles brilliant, or a gimmick?

August 19, 2009 |  6:00 am

Carolyn Rubenstein, author of the new nonfiction book "Perseverance," is giving away four Kindles this week -- one each day through Friday -- to people who Tweet #perseverance. The hope is to get enough momentum behind the Kindle giveaway to secure it a spot in the top-10 coveted Trending Topics section that is visible on all standard Twitter pages. And for that momentum to transfer to the book.

Is this a brilliant marketing move, or a desperate ploy for attention?

In June and July, web publishing platform Squarespace gave away 30 iPhones in 30 days to people who tweeted #squarespace, and lo and behold, it did become a Trending Topic on Twitter. Technically, Squarespace gave away $199 Apple Gift Certificates; this caused some consternation because the prize didn't cover the cost of the required two-year contract with AT&T. Nevertheless, the promotion maintained a high level of visibility and popularity.

But can marketing magic strike Twitter the same way twice?

The four winners of Rubenstein's contest will get the $299, 6-inch Kindle, costing her about $800. That seems like a high price for a first-time, 24-year-old author to pay. Is it worth it? Is publisher Tor/Forge picking up the tab?

Oh, about the book: "Perseverance" is 20 true-life stories from young cancer survivors. So even if it's a desperate promotional move -- and I'm guilty of succumbing to a gimmick -- well, maybe it is worth it after all.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times