Guerilla Book Marketing | June 24, 2006

Call me naive, but I always thought the books displayed cover out at bookshops were done so because the staff liked the books or they were good sellers. It wasn’t until I dipped my toes in the publishing world that I found out you actually have to pay for your books to be presented this way.

If you have a publisher with good industry connections and deep pockets, your books get featured this way. This is why you see the same few title in every bookshop you go to. It’s not an indication of quality, just that the companies behind them have a bigger marketing budget. This probably helps explain the ubiquity of the dummies series.

So I’m going to suggest a guerilla book marketing campaign to help support your favourite authors. If you’re browsing the bookshelves and see a book you like, simply flip it cover out. It doesn’t have to be one of my books, although that is always appreciated. It doesn’t even have to be a computer book. Any book will do.

And if you have a camera with you, why not grab a pic and post up the evidence. Here are a few to get you started.




Posted at June 24, 2006 11:34 AM


Colly said on June 24, 2006 12:07 PM

I already do this! have done it for our book in Waterstones (Nottm branch) almost weekly!

I’ll be doing it a lot more come August ;}

Rami Kayyali said on June 24, 2006 12:23 PM

Good idea. I used to do that with my own book collection, but I guess we’ll have to extend it to libraries.

Thanks Andy.

Nick Harris said on June 24, 2006 2:01 PM

Great idea! I may just go into bookshops and do it when I’m bored.

Justin Halsall said on June 24, 2006 2:15 PM

Andy, Can you write a book on this? Then we can all flip it cover out. Everyone will know that the bookstore with your book cover out has good books cover out and not just “good industry connections and deep pockets books”.

Chris Wible said on June 24, 2006 2:59 PM

Love it! I didn’t know that about publishers. I used to work in a library and I’d do little experiments - turn the books that I liked that way and see how fast they’d be taken out. It actually worked! Funny thing was I could even do it with stupid books and sometimes they’d just make their way up to checkout with the rest. Thought I was the only one to even notice anything like that.

I’ll make a habit of turning your books face out now :)

Adam Schilling said on June 24, 2006 3:20 PM

I hope this spreads like wild-fire! ;-)

I always do this for a friend author of mine, Tony Shillitoe. It helps that his books are brilliant (imho).

Jeff Hartman said on June 24, 2006 3:32 PM

CSS Mastery, Jeremy’s DOM Scripting, and Dan’s Bulletproof Web Design are the best books I’ve read over the last year.

Excellent, excellent work.

Adam Liptrot said on June 24, 2006 5:05 PM

Really? I used to be a buyer for a bookstore and we never charged for this, we just did it with books we had a lot of to save space! Looks like we were missing out on a revenue stream!

Enrique said on June 24, 2006 7:36 PM

Really interesting your idea, but I have a problem. I usually buy my books in Internet, and i can not change the position of the images of Amazon JjJa…

In serious. When I am in a bookstore, I will do it, you can be safe.

Andy Budd said on June 24, 2006 8:56 PM

I guess the closest online equivalent would be to write a glowing review on Amazon. As it happens the last couple of reviews I’ve had on have been stinkers, so if anybody fancies writing a nice review of my book, I’d be extremely grateful.

Francis Storr said on June 24, 2006 10:29 PM

LOL, my family did this on many occasions with my brother’s book

Is this comment more guerilla marketing? Possibly :)

Back to the topic in-hand - CSS Mastery is excellent. If I wander into a bookshop, I’ll make sure to re-arrange the shelves to make it, as well as Jeremy’s and Ian’s books, just that little bit more obvious.

ralph said on June 24, 2006 11:48 PM

On the flip side of this, for particularly egregious books, it’s not a bad idea to hide them behind books that are displayed in this manner. I used to do that with a book called “How to Get Rich on the Internet” that was published by two lawyers who were the original spammers, posting ads for their services “helping” immigrants get their Green Cards. They advocated spamming Usenet (this was before spam had become more of an e-mail phenomenon for most people).

My cosmic reward was to come home one day and see a copy of this book on my dad’s desk. I told him that if he followed one single thing in the book that I would eviscerate him, especially since we have the same name, and any actions he took along those line would harm my reputation.

Incidentally, Andy, I saw your book displayed in this manner in two bookstores I was in today. No action on my part required.

Phil Sherry said on June 25, 2006 8:57 AM

I’ve been doing this since mine have been on the shelves.

Tony said on June 25, 2006 5:55 PM

I worked at a big chain book store in college (circa 6 years ago) and we were to turn books cover-out just to visually break up the rows of spines. They never said to do so to certain books and not others. I usually picked books I liked to turn out. Now, endcaps are another matter…

Gordon said on June 26, 2006 8:57 AM

Take it one step further.

A lot of book stores feature little ‘summary’ cards (either a summary of the book or “staff comments” (yeah right)). Why not produce your own, a piece of card with a fold in it, and print up a few glowing reviews… I wonder how long it would take the average bookstore to spot the ‘fraud’!

Andy Budd said on June 26, 2006 9:52 AM

lol Gordon, that’s inspired. However I couldn’t bring myself to doing something like that, as it feels a little too devious even for me :-)

Enrique said on June 26, 2006 12:36 PM

I have already written my review for “CSS Mastery” in Amazon. I hope they publish it to me in a few days. My “guerrilla” has begun ;-)

Loretta D. said on July 1, 2006 2:33 PM


LFT said on July 1, 2006 9:39 PM

Now I understand why there are so many dumb books featured on the shelves of chain bookstores during election time.