It’s no secret that the media is image-obsessed and has a problem with whitewashing and gender stereotyping. From magazine covers doing Photoshop “touch-ups,” to fandoms having an issue with a character’s casting in a film, to debates about the term “chick flick” or just how overly pink “girl” toy shelves are. For the publishing world, book covers are a problem we have to fix.
What makes an old book new—at least in the eyes of the consumer? Publishers of classic novels face the distinct challenge of marketing books that have already been extensively read, loved, discussed, and marketed. More often than not, publishers are not selling the content of the book—after all, the words are already tried and true—they are selling the experience.
Gamebooks are about being able to play around in a familiar world, make mistakes, and try again. Interactive books for adults do just that, but this time, the majority of choose-your-path books are focusing on classic and well-known stories, rather than the nostalgic stereotypes found in the kids’ series. Interactive books use the stories of classics––Austen, Shakespeare, historical romance––to give adult readers a chance to toy with the literary worlds they have known and loved.
Should we then, as publishers, be paying more attention to coffee shops as a means of marketing? Would more upper-class shops be willing to display, or even review, some of our titles? Or is it inevitable that those owners will continue to sneak into Goodwill, bargain shopping for books that are worn, falling apart, and unwanted? Is it even worth putting our books in places that were intended to be ignored?
Imagining shelves of Ooligan books expanding into the future is one of the unsung joys of inventory; what might seem a menial task, unseen and unappreciated, is actually one of the threads that weaves Ooligan Press together, past, present, and future.
Be like a sponge, absorb everything.