Marketing Monday-Little Libraries

Little Free Library on Ohio St in La Mesa, CA
Little Free Library on Ohio St in La Mesa, CA

Have you ever seen a Little Free Library? The first one was built in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, as a tribute to his mother. His was a miniature one-room schoolhouse in honor of the years his mother had been a teacher. He added a sign, "Free Books." His neighbors all liked what they saw, so he built more and gave them away.

Since those first little libraries began dotting the Wisconsin landscape, an organization has sprung up around the idea, providing plans for others to build their own libraries. They operate on the honor system, with "Take One, Leave One" as the guiding principle. One organization, the Author Marketing Institute, likes the idea so much they are willing to provide funds if you are willing to build one.

The Author Marketing Institute loves the idea of seeing Little Free Libraries popping up all over the world. So much so, we’d like to fund your library. All you have to do is apply to us using the form [on their site]. Tell us about where you want to put your library, and why you want to put one up, and we’ll review your application.

If selected, we’ll sponsor the costs needed to purchase the library. You’ll have to put it up yourself of course, and we’ll want pictures too.

Little Free Libraries are popping up all over, including 12 in San Diego, 5 in La Mesa, 2 in El Cajon, 5 in La Jolla, 2 in Chula Vista, 2 in Rancho Bernardo, 3 in Rancho Penasquitos, 1 in Del Mar, and 5 in Poway . For a list of registered Little Free Libraries in the area, see this site.

These free libraries are great for those who like to read but can't easily get to the library, or who wouldn't think of going to a library, but find the serendipty of a free library in their neighborhood appealing. And that is why authors may find them a useful marketing option. One Wisconsin blogger, who noticed the movement a few years back, has this to say to authors about Little Free Libraries.

The whole idea behind the Little Free Library movement is not to get rid of books you don’t need and can’t sell. It’s to provide readers easy access to books and encourage people around the world to read more books. The more people read, the better the world will be for authors as well as readers.

In addition, a little library may be the perfect place for you begin to circulate your book in your local community. Word-of-mouth is the best way to promote book sales. Consider putting a copy of your book in a nearby Little Free Library and see how quickly it gets taken off the shelf. Create a review copy containing tear-out postage paid postcards if you want to encourage feedback before you finish your book.

Other ideas for taking advantage of marketing your books through Little Free Libraries include the following:

  • Tape your business card with your website url, Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn account and e-mail address onto the back of the front cover of your book.
  • Request that anyone who reads it post a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
  • Encourage readers to contact you by e-mail or through your website to let you know how they liked the book.
  • Encourage readers to like your Facebook page and to follow your website.
  • Create a numbered list inside the book cover for readers to add their names, and ask that they contact you to let you know what number they are on the list and where they picked up the book.
  • Post the route of your book's journey on your website so others can see it.

What are you waiting for? Get your books out where they can be discovered, at area Little Free Libraries!

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