Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gordon Dryden’s web marketing pays off

Auckland author Gordon Dryden practises what his new book preaches.
UNLIMITED (The new learning revolution and the seven keys to unlock it) was published in New Zealand earlier this month, with Auckland publisher David Bateman Ltd. as the bookshop distributor.

Dryden’s own company, The Learning Web Ltd., is the international publisher and, in New Zealand, handles direct-marketing and internet sales.

Anyone can read the first 34 pages of the book (Preface, Foreword and Introduction) free at and place an order there, from anywhere in the world.

Dryden says that first week’s orders have come in from Russia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Canada, Israel, Australia and the United Kingdom. Several have since reordered multiple copies; and inquiries have come in from three countries to become joint direct-distribution partners.

I like the fact that Dryden keeps faith with the book trade by offering individual books online for the recommended retail bookshop price of $50 (but including postage). Australian prices are the same as in New Zealand, but in Australian dollars (including postage ex-New Zealand), North, Central and South America at US $30, plus $10 postage; and the United Kingdom and Europe at £20 plus £5 postage.

Dryden himself has a background in book marketing: he set up a direct-marketing book club while running a daily talkshow on Auckland’s Radio I in the early 1970s, then set up Gordon Dryden’s Book Corner in Queen Street*- see footnote - (built around his own broadcasting studio)—now the main Auckland site for Whitcoulls.

But he sees the really big future in Amazon-type marketing: “Of the US$16 billion in retail book sales last year, big three—the Borders group, Barnes & Nobel group and Amazon—accounted for $13 billion, with Amazon now slipping into top spot.”And he also sees computer-savvy authors now “doing what musicians do—selling their products on line, promoted through outlets such as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace” as well as through retail stores.

Unlimited—co-authored with former American doctor of education Jeannette Vos, now also living in New Zealand—argues that Web 2.0 innovations are changing the entire face of learning and literacy. “In New Zealand,” he argues, “twenty-first-century literacy is what Peter Jackson has done with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings—multimedia literacy”.

Unlimited is a 320-page A4 landscape, hard-cover book, with a large color photo on every page. And Dryden tells The Bookman that he is currently turning those photos—with other videoclips—into a DVD which will also be sold online early in 2009. All books for direct sales come from the Shanghai-based, Singapore-owned color printed encased in easy-open individual mailing cartons.

Dryden says one of the keys to Web marketing is “the Google model”: give away important information free—and then sell a total product to those really interested. And his book argues that this is about to become a major part of “the new economy”, with anyone now able to “turn their own passions and interests” into Web sales. “I think that will be particularly important for those thinking of writing books—and producing associated multimedia and other material—on subjects which may be of ‘minority interest’ in their own countries. For example, one of my favourite examples is the elderly woman, living in a village in the U.S, state of Maine, that a colleague met at an international conference on Web marketing. Her hobby, it turned out, was teaching parrots to talk, and then sewing fancy dress suits for parrots to perform in. So she was persuaded to give away free parrot-teaching lessons online—and sell the fancy dress costumes. Her first year costume sales: US $2 million.”

If you want to learn how to do that with your passion, Dryden recommends reading The Long Tail, by Wired Editor in Chief Chris Andersen.

*The Bookman was offered the job running Dryden's Book Corner, actually selling the books while Dryden interviewed their authors on air. I was tempted but declined as in those days I was still running Beattie & Forbes Bookshop in Napier, and subsequently joined Penguin Books in 1977. The rest, as they say, is history.


Fifi Colston said...

Fantastic! Can we get him to speak at our conference next year? Ah its the way and the future- as authors rely more and more on selling their own product direct to the consumer and bypassing the traditional threshold guardians (do we need to name them? anyone who has published and then hoped for riches will know). I love it. bring us more Bookman x

Anonymous said...

Gordon Dryden responds:

Delighted to do so if in the country. Which conference?

Fifi Colston said...

We are planning a Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators conference in September 2009. How do I get hold of you other than through Graham?
Cheers Fifi

Gordon Dryden said...

Gordon Dryden said ...

Anonymous said...