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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 14 December 2021. In this issue:

Should back cover copy include readership?

This was a conversation that took place during a recent copywriting workshop. The question was: does a reader of back cover copy in a bookshop find it reassuring if it includes ‘This book is for ...’?

Publishers’ style guides often recommend including readership at the end of the description. As a technique it’s so widespread that it’s acquired an authority which often isn’t questioned.

I do question it though, given the need to keep copy both lean and specific. For these reasons:

  1. The person reading the copy won’t have found it by accident, but via keyword searches or by going to the relevant shelves in a bookshop. They already know they’re ‘the readership’.
  2. The role of the title of the book in this scenario is to confirm its relevance, and the description should make clear whether it meets precise needs.
  3. That’s a mini customer journey right there, from research, to shortlist, to choosing to buy. Copy is there to facilitate that journey.
  4. When those readership lines are part of a standard copy template they have a tendency to become too all-encompassing to be useful.
  5. Readership lines are catered for separately in fields on Biblio and other content management databases, where they will generally be used to populate rep-facing tools such as Advance Information sheets. Reps (and librarians to a degree) do find this information useful, but not buried in copy.
One of the senior publishers taking part still had concerns about dropping it. But then another senior colleague came up with a wonderful example which absolutely nailed it for me:

“If I go into a bookshop looking for something to improve my golf handicap, and a book blurb tells me how it will help me do this, I’m much more likely to be persuaded than I am by a readership line telling me the book’s for golfers.”

Are you worried that training isn’t as engaging online as in person? Twenty months on we’re all a lot more relaxed and happy to contribute, so natural discussions really do happen. And of course in-company tailored online training is excellent for bringing far-flung team members together to discuss day to day challenges.

Read more about our Copywriting Workshop


Singaporean and Canadian publishers hook up in a virtual trade mission

Our friends over at the Singapore Book Publishers Association got together on Zoom last week with Livres Canada Books to exchange information about their respective publishing sectors. The second part of their ‘virtual trade mission’ included virtual tours of Kinokuniya’s flagship bookstore and the National Library Board. What a fantastic idea! I know both well and would have loved to have been there.

Last week a giant of international bookselling, Kinokuniya’s Hiroshi Sogo, announced his retirement. I have fond memories of working with him in Singapore (including as co-tutor on one of our courses there 20 years ago!) and of regular catch ups on book trade gossip over coffee in the bookstore’s coffee shop.

The National Library Board is an inspirational facility with a passion for promoting reading in all forms. I first ran training courses for them in their old and characterful home, long since demolished. Today they’re in a state of the art building in Victoria Street, with a lovely café at ground floor and excellent training rooms.

Sadly I wasn’t a guest on the virtual tours. But here’s an ‘ambient tour’ of Kinukuniya in Singapore to introduce you to one of the world’s great bookshops. You may find you’re hooked in just a few minutes.

Bringing our courses to you wherever you are in the world is now easier. If it’s something you’d like to see, drop me an email on

Read more on our international training page


The Marketability eBulletin is changing

The eBulletin has been going for 19 years in 2022, and some of our readers have been with us since those early days. For 15 of those years it’s been brought to you by Adestra, but from the next edition we’re moving to Mailchimp. We’ve now taken the decision to continue to be monthly rather than reverting back to fortnightly, and for the volume we’ll need in the future, Mailchimp is a better fit.

Big thanks go to Adestra for all those years. We’d recommend them for anyone needing to manage and track a big email programme.

Look out for us in your inbox as usual on Tuesday 11 January. New look, same content.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

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Tip of the week: Keep looking forward

A personal tip to end another rocky year for us all. This is a variation on the pre-Covid tip of ‘if you’ve just got back from holiday, book something else immediately so you have it to look forward to’.

My first reaction to yet another pair of cancellations last week was something akin to a toddler tantrum of ‘it’s not fair!’ and ‘I’m not playing any more!’ But I had a sharp word with myself. I’ve been lucky, I haven’t had Covid or lost anyone I love to it. Feeling sorry for myself was indulgent and misplaced. So I put the new dates into my diary and started looking forward to them.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.






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