Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Marketing Literacy: The Santa Clara Reads Campaign and 2009 Book of the Year

First off, I'm not sure this is a positive review of the Santa Clara Reads campaign. The only way I found out about it is another member of my book group brought it to my attention. Given that I do most of my newspaper reading on line I tend to see mostly headlines these days, and if something isn't in the top headlines on the Mercury News or Google News sites I may miss it. I was incredibly impressed last night though when I attended a free event at the Heritage Theatre in Campbell CA to see a talk by Brian Copeland, author of the book Not a Genuine Black Man. What a revelation. Brian Copeland now has an avid fan who is ready to read his book, see his play and stream his radio program and, if he does any comedy shows I'll try and go to those as well.

Not a Genuine Black Man is Brian's story of how when he was 8 his mother moved him from Oakland to the suburb San Leandro - a 99.99% white town that had a secret but active conspiracy taking place in the 70's to keep the minorities out of town. Brian shared his thoughts on his life, his writing, his career and politics in a delightful one hour conversation with a Mercury News columnist and won the audience over as fans. He also stayed to sign books after the reading since his arrival had been delayed. His signed book now holds a place of honor in my pile of to be read books and I'm thinking of getting copies for a few people in my family to enjoy.

I am very grateful that my friend invited me to this event, but I worry how I, as an avid reader and marketer, had failed to see any promotion of this event. What am I not reading that caused me to miss this? I use my local library once a week and hadn't seen anything on it. They have my email address but I never saw it. It wasn't in my quarterly newsletter from either Friends of the Library group that I belong to.

So, here's a note to the supporters of literacy here in Santa Clara - reach out to the readers more aggressively. Of course the fact that librarians no longer have to check out books at the library, replaced in that function by scanners, may play a part. They've lost that opportunity to impact what readers are doing because they can no longer say hey did you know about our Santa Clara Reads program? I used to love the librarian I knew in Rochester NY who would scan my pile of books and then tell me other authors to check out.

Who knows, but I'll do my part by recommending everyone I know check out Brian Copelands book, Not a Genuine Black Man.

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