Making Booksellers TitleSmart

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Former bookseller Hank Jones developed TitleSmart, www.titlesmart.com, an informational web tool for booksellers and librarians, to provide a single wide-ranging source for easy access to information about major book reviews and book publicity. "From talking with fellow booksellers and from my own experience, I knew there was a search tool needed that could help my store and other stores to more efficiently track down titles for customers," said Jones.

Titlesmart.com allows searches by keyword, date, and/or media outlet, including information about specific television shows, radio programs, or printed publications. So, for example, if a customer is looking for a novel that is partially set in Paris, was reviewed in a newspaper sometime during the summer, and possibly mentioned on NPR's Weekend Edition, booksellers can enter that data, including a start and end date, and the result is a list of titles with extended descriptions and synopses of reviews.

In addition, TitleSmart provides short, quick (and, Jones emphasized, copyright-friendly) excerpts from major newspapers and specialty magazines for booksellers to use to when recommending a title or creating a shelf-talker. Books receiving strong media attention are highlighted.

For 14 years, Jones owned Carmel, New York's Putnam Book Center, which closed in 2004. He developed TitleSmart in the late 1990s, but the product has grown dramatically over the years to keep pace with developments in the book industry, as well as with Web advancements. The goal of TitleSmart has remained constant, however.

"Our mission," said Jones, "is to help booksellers.... Customers are more demanding than ever, and booksellers must keep up with those demands by providing a higher level of service. TitleSmart helps provide that with tools so they can be more knowledgeable and informed. I am also intimately aware of the paper-thin margins and the 'not enough time in a day' world booksellers live in, so TitleSmart helps them with their efficiency and preparedness.

Jones promotes TitleSmart with enthusiastic blurbs from several independent booksellers, including Roxanne Coady of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut, and Susan Novotny of Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, New York, but, Jones noted, booksellers can find out for themselves how useful a tool TitleSmart is by taking advantage of a two-week free trial, which is offered at www.titlesmart.com/.

"It's proven to be a pretty handy tool for booksellers and librarians," Jones concluded. "It means you don't have to go on a wild goose chase."

TitleSmart costs $19.95 per month. Questions about the product should be addressed to Jones at [email protected]. --Karen Schechner