Pomegranate Books Promotes E-Book Sales at Author Events

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The events calendar at Pomegranate Books, a general bookstore in Wilmington, North Carolina, is consistently filled with author readings, children’s events, lectures and workshops, community gatherings, and more.  And while the bookstore stocks a wide selection of inventory, owner Kathleen Jewell has special interests in health and healing and finding ways to promote the store’s ability to sell e-books.

Before opening the bookstore in 2006, Jewell practiced preventative medicine for 25 years. Drawing on that experience, she brings many health-related professionals into the store and often ties their appearances to popular health- or food-related titles. “I try to do things that are life-enhancing,” she said. “And these are topics that people want to discuss.”

Pomegranate has an upcoming event in the works that is based around Michael Moss’ Salt, Sugar, Fat (Random House). Jewell plans to lead this event herself and will bring in the people behind Feast Down East, a local nonprofit that supports farmers, as well as GRUB, a local company that offers education focusing on nourishing and healing food. She sees this event as an opportunity to highlight backlist titles, such as Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Harper Perennial), as well as many of Michael Pollan’s books.

Jewell also regularly hosts Tibetan healing bowl sessions, which are very popular in the store. Customers are invited to lie on floor while a local practitioner plays therapeutically tuned Tibetan bowls. Similarly, Pomegranate has hosted a healing harp practitioner, who often travels to hospices and hospitals. During the session, the customer holds the harp while the woman plays a meditative and healing tune.

In addition to hosting health-related activities, Jewell has been finding ways to incorporate Kobo eBooks into many of the store’s events. When local poet Jean Jones –– a regular supporter and visitor of the store –– released his latest collection as an e-book, Jewell worked with his publisher, Bruce Whealton, to ensure the poetry collection’s availability through Kobo. Pomegranate scheduled a reading with Jones, billing it as the store’s “first e-book reading.” Jones recited poems from his books, notes, and memory and invited attendees to recite poems of their choosing. Kobo eReaders were on display, and the computer in the store was set to Pomegranate’s website, where customers were encouraged to set up a Kobo account that was linked to the store. Because of Jones’ following in the area, there was a great turnout and e-book sales –– as well as Jones’ other physical books –– were good, said Jewell.

Pomegranate garnered e-book sales from across the country when Jewell worked with local author Shelia Boneham, who has 17 nonfiction books about pets and rescue animals. When Boneham released her first novel, Drop Dead on Recall, she also launched a country-wide fundraising campaign to donate a percentage of the proceeds from her hardcopy book sales to two national rescue groups. Jewell worked with Boneham’s publishers, Midnight Ink, to allow the same donation to be made when customers buy the Kobo eBook version of her novel. Boneham also linked to Pomegranate on her author website. “These are ways to lead people to e-books, and to get them linked to our store,” said Jewell.

It is still too early to tell if the sporadic e-book sale increases can be attributed to these events, said Jewell, but her main goal at this time is to get customers to sign up to buy their e-books from Pomegranate.

Jewell is planning to target e-book marketing to book groups, since she recently noticed a decrease in sales, and suspects many purchase e-book versions of the book group title from another source. Since Pomegranate offers book groups discounts and opportunities to connect with authors, she thinks that there is potential in capturing sales. “This is a market we can definitely serve,” she said.