Promoting eBooks

February was ebook month at our library. Full disclosure: I love them and I don’t think they signal the end of civilization as we know it. But, how do you promote something so intangible? Here are some ideas, many of which will work well both in academic and public libraries.

You can call her "Vanna."

You can call her “Vanna.”

The week of Valentine’s Day we hosted Hook Up With An eBook booths around campus hot spots (cafeteria, major academic building, outside the library). We emailed professors with the times and locations in the hopes they would learn more, in particular about etextbooks. We used our student listserv, Facebook, and the ever-helpful Dean of Students office to inform students of the week events.

We invited our bookstore and the local public library to join us in order to show students how pervasive ebooks are. We used our prize wheel to reel them in along with some student workers who didn’t mind yelling at students to come over. Also, we had plates full of cookies. Each prize wheel section featured a question about ebooks (including questions about ebooks at the campus bookstore). Some of them were serious (such as which young adult series we own in ebook format), some were not (“Are ebooks a government plot to turn us all into zombie?”), but most were designed to inform students about ebook available on campus. We starred one particularly hard question (how many textbooks are available in ebook format from the bookstore, ballpark) that we offered special prizes for answering correctly (donated by the bookstore.) Otherwise a cookie (decorated for Valentine’s Day) was their prize. Which fortunately students consider a win.

Hire Art majors and then make them do your bidding.

Hire Art majors and then make them do your bidding.

The bookstore provided various ereaders for students to test. It was hard at first to get them to commit staying long enough to look at an ereader. Fortunately the public librarians lured them in by showing them their emagazine subscriptions. Students were really impressed with the magazine subscription offerings, that they were free, and that the service would email them when new issues came out.

I created a display before winter break to promote pleasure reading via our ebook collection. I piled over 100 books on a short shelf. Signs let patrons know all of these books were available in ebook form. Additionally, I’m holding a contest based on a colleague’s suggestion. I have three boxes of print books we’ve pulled because we now have updated ebook versions. Students have to guess how much the book pile weighs. A gift card goes to the winner, but hopefully some knowledge about our ebook offerings goes to all.

I know others of you are working on similar promotions. Please pass your experiences along to share with your colleagues.

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