“Hut’s Place” Speaks to Readers

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Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA), has created “Hut’s Place: Weekly Words About Books,” a weekly e-mail column aimed at readers that highlights newly released titles available in independent bookstores nationwide.

As a former bookstore owner, Landon knows that, while many people in the book business are well aware of the new titles coming out each week, the message doesn’t always get to the customer. Landon writes about both hardcover and paperback children’s and adult titles, and finds his ideas from bestseller lists, the Indie Next Lists, and other trade publications and catalogs.

By providing customers with a quick overview of books releasing each week, all of which would be common on the shelves of general independent bookstores, Landon hopes to drive readers to brick-and-mortar bookshops to pick up the titles that interest them. The newsletter’s aim is “instant gratification,” Landon said.

“Hut’s Place” is not literary criticism or an in-depth analysis of obscure novels, Landon explained. It’s a quick read (taking no more than seven minutes) that touches on roughly five new and popular books each issue.

The free column is e-mailed once per week and is available to subscribers across the country. Landon intentionally looks for books with national appeal — ones that will be in every independent store in the U.S. “I want this to be useable across the country,” he said.

Additionally, “a little bit of the column is to educate the consumer about how indies work,” said Landon, who encourages readers to use the IndieBound store finder and includes reminders that books can be special-ordered or preordered through independent bookstores.

Landon invites booksellers to sign up for “Hut’s Place” and to forward the column to customers. Recipients can choose whether or not to subscribe, and Landon believes that if readers continue to receive the column, it will translate into sales for local bookstores.

“I thought that this might be a way to drive more people into indie bookstores more often, rather than them just going in one day and seeing these new books. They’ll make an additional trip because something they want to read is there,” said Landon.

With an open rate of about 60 percent, the initial issues of “Hut’s Place” have received praise from subscribers, Landon’s said. One subscriber went so far as to tell him: “Since joining the mailing list for ‘Hut’s Place,’ I’ve purchased a number of great books based on recommendations; in fact I go to the site every time I need a new book.”

Landon hopes to tally enough subscribers in the future so that publishers would be willing to support the newsletter with advertising. “Publishers want more ways to reach consumers directly,” he said, and this can provide yet another opportunity for publishers and booksellers to work together to spark readers’ interest in books and indie bookstores.

Check out the full “Hut’s Place” archive here