Marketing Books to Boys, Part 2

10 Mar

This is the second in a series entitled, “Marketing Books to Boys.” Men represent approximately 50% of the potential fiction reading market but about 20% of the actual fiction reading market, according to some polls. We’ll be exploring some of the things publishers can do to reach boys.

In the last exciting installment of Marketing Books to Boys, we discussed the possibility of using technology, specifically book trailers and Youtube, to market books to boys.   In the interest of practicing what I preach, I started posting book trailers on the site shortly after I posted that blog.

Is there another type of technology in the hands of young boys that publishers might be able to use to market to boys?  I think there is.  No matter how technologically advanced we get, young boys still like to have portable game platforms.  The Nintendo DS and Sony PSP continue to be popular with boys and have evolved from simple gaming platforms to general entertainment devices.  They can now watch videos, listen to music, and engage in simple communications with others on these devices.

If these portable gaming devices could be used as e-readers, think of the possibilities.   When people fall in love with characters they look for other sources for their character “fix.”  Even boys who would not normally read a book may download an e-book to their gaming device featuring their favorite characters if it’s marketed to them directly on the device.  For instance, the Harry Potter movies and video games could be used to market the Harry Potter books.  A reluctant reader may not be willing to download a 400-500 page book no matter how infatuated he is with a story, but many boys would.

The reluctant reader might require a different tact, but he is reachable in this format, too.  Even he may be enticed to download a full-length novel if provided with a free chapter or two and a link to the rest of the novel attached to a related video game or movie. And we don’t have to confine ourselves to full length novels.  The e-book platform lends itself to the distribution of serialized novels and short stories.   A reluctant reader might not be willing to download a full-length novel featuring the characters from the Transformers, but he might be willing to download and read a serialized version or even short stories featuring those characters, particularly if they are accompanied by some graphics.   And speaking of graphics, is there much doubt that they would download a related graphic novel?

The advent of the e-book might very well bring back the serial novel and increase the popularity of the short story.  It might also make the publication of graphics novels much more economical.  These are literary forms that reluctant readers are more likely to be willing to tackle, but there is little economic incentive to publish them in book form.  However, publishing them in electronic format may be more economically feasible and may allow the publishing industry to make inroads into the underrepresented male demographic. That would be good for reluctant readers, publishers, and authors.

In the next installment of Marketing Books to Boys, we will discuss some non-technological ways to market books to boys, but I welcome any ideas you may have, technology related or otherwise.


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Written by Carl

  1. LM Preston

    March 10, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I think another missed opportunity is podcast and audio books. My son loves to listen to podcast and downloads them to his devices. Other teens do this.

    • Carl

      March 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm


      Sure. Middle graders and teens are creatures of technology in a multimedia world. It makes sense to try to reach them in the ways in which they feel most comfortable communicating and absorbing information.

  2. Zoe

    March 11, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Great thoughts, Carl! I love the idea of making e-books available through portable gaming devices. I can’t tear my 13-year-old son from his Nintendo DS. As the next book in my pipeline concerns a misguided 14-year-old boy, I love the boylit focus of your blog. Good stuff!

    • Carl

      March 11, 2010 at 1:29 pm

      Thank you, Zoe.

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the blog. Please spread the word and don’t forget to check back for Part 3. We’ll be discussing other ways to market books to boys – the forgotten market.