Partnering with an Icon

Shinola "Where American is Made"The death of manufacturing towns has become an unavoidable narrative in American popular culture.  Stories of companies shipping jobs overseas permeate all channels of media and our policy leaders struggle to stop the hemorrhaging of good paying American jobs.  The phenomenon signifies not just a loss of economic stability, but a loss of independence for our communities.  The outlook however is not all bad and there exists companies whose mission it is to change this narrative.  We would like to tell you about one such company.  It’s a tale about a storied brand brought back to life in a town known for its manufacturing prowess.  They have partnered with local family owned businesses who dedicate their lives and their children’s lives to the crafts they have perfected.  The company is Shinola and we are incredibly proud to play a role in their mission.

Contacted by an Icon

In early 2011, our VP of operations, Bill Upton was contacted by the Michigan Economic Development Council (MEDC) about a company out of Texas looking to meet with local manufacturers.  That company’s main interest was creating a line of products made by Americans.  “We were interested because we share the vision of using our ingenuity to manufacture quality products cost effectively”, says Bill.  The company was starting up operations right in the heart of Detroit, Michigan; a town known for its rich manufacturing heritage.  They’ve set up shop in the old General Motors Argonaut building; a place that has its own amazing history of innovation.  Among other products from other suppliers, the new business will sell leather bound journals made by Edwards Brothers Malloy.

Shinola JournalWe wanted to get involved with Shinola because we share many of the same values like pride of craftsmanship and helping our communities succeed through work.  Bill Upton talks about collaborating with Shinola and how they firmly believed that “if you come up with the idea for a product, even if it isn’t new; and work with an American supplier, the expert craftsman can come up with a way to develop it economically and of high quality”.  For almost two years we have been working with Shinola to develop a prototype of journals that are now available on their website.

The Quintessential American Company

In many ways, the story Shinola is telling mirrors the history of our own company.  The 120 million dollar organization that Edwards Brothers Malloy has become today was founded over a century ago in 1893 by 3 brothers who wanted to make things.  They didn’t have all the right ideas or a ground breaking product but they built a company through ingenuity, perseverance, hard work and sacrifice.  Their actions, and the actions of others who share similar stories, have made American manufacturing; and indeed the very country, what it is today.  We make books.  That is what we do and we make some of the highest quality, longest lasting books in the world; right here in America.  Countless families and individuals over the past century have helped contribute to this organization.  They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members and our fellow citizens.  Collectively they help produce the stories we read to our children every night, the texts that help graduate our students and the fairy tales that let us all escape to new worlds.

The Video

Slogans and mantras, mission statements and blog posts are all really great for promoting a company but it’s far more powerful to see the everyday people who have a passion for what they do.  Shinola has done this through video with many of their suppliers and the products they produce.  They have done the same for us.  The relationship we have with Shinola began back in 2011 with then Malloy Incorporated.  This was before the merger between Edwards Brothers and Malloy so all the shots you will see in the video were taken at the Jackson Road facility.

We think that Shinola is on to something and that American consumers are longing for a change in the products they buy.  They are looking for items that will have meaning in their lives.  They are also looking for products that are made in America by Americans.  We are both proud and thrilled to be a part of this movement and we look forward to a long relationship with the company that is bringing “made in America” back to the mainstream.

How do you feel about companies that make things in America?  Do you try and buy from businesses that manufacture things in the States or that have strong ties to a community?

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AF&PA Recognizes Edwards Brothers Malloy

John Edwards, Charlie Montgmery and Bill Upton pose for a photo on JR

From left to right, John Edwards, Charlie Montgomery and Bill Upton pose for a photo at the front entrance of our Jackson Road facility in Ann Arbor, MI.

Being good environmental stewards is a core part of who we are as a company.  We recycle or re-purpose millions of pounds of paper each year.

With the sheer volume of paper moving through our facilities (about 70 million pounds!), the opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment is great.

Over the past few years we have focused our efforts to become more proactive at managing our paper recycling initiatives and our efforts have been rewarded by the American Forest & Paper Association who recognized Edwards Brothers Malloy for our recycling program.

Paper Recycling at Edwards Brothers Malloy

Air Screen Paper Recycling System

This air-screen filtration system sits on the roof of our Jackson Road facility. It collects more than 2 and a half tons of scrap paper from manufacturing every day!

Paper is used in almost every aspect of our business from the books we make in our facilities to the invoices, memos, and marketing materials we use in our sales, marketing and customer service activities.

In many companies, technology is reducing the need for so much paper but it remains a large part of our work lives.

We have various stations set up around our buildings to make it easy for people to recycle paper and other materials instead of throwing them away.

Bins separated by the types of paper that are to be recycled there are positioned at every work area.  Desktop recovery bins are also utilized in offices.

We also maintain state of the art scrap paper retrieval systems that recover much of the left over material from manufacturing books.  We collect over two and a half tons of scrap paper every day which is recycled.

Paper Recycling Education

Cardboard Recycling

Dedicated steel bins hold cardboard and aluminum plates set aside for recycling. Dozens of such bins are scattered throughout our facilities.

Educating employees on best practices for recycling materials is an important part of our recycling program.

Pressmen train their helpers on what materials can be recycled and how to separate them.

Boxes are properly labeled so that materials don’t accidentally get mixed and cardboard bins are placed in strategic locations around the facilities.

A similar scenario plays out in bindery and supervisors instruct temporary employees on where to place materials for re-use.

The entire system is voluntary however almost 100% of employees participate.  All office and manufacturing paper is successfully recovered representing a company-wide commitment to the environment.

Paper Recycling Partnerships

Recycling Paper

Paper cut off the outside of a new role is collected in racks near press areas. Each type of paper is sorted into its own bin.

Edwards Brothers Malloy has earned designation as a Washtenaw County Waste Knot Partner in recognition of our waste management and reduction business practices and the operation of a successful recycling program.

We also work with local horse farms to recycle paper dust as bedding for horses.

Further, close interaction with our waste hauler helps us get feedback that shared with employees and used to continue to strengthen our program.

Data at  a Glance

The chart below shows our paper recycling progress for the Jackson Road facility alone over the past year (2012).  Data for all of our facilities has not yet been combined into an easily accessible central location however as we get through more to-do items on our merger list, this data will be merged to paint a clearer overall picture of how we are doing.

Paper recycling Chart

We would like to thank the American Forest & Paper Association for recognizing our recycling efforts.  Without the hard work and dedication of our employees, these amazing accomplishments would not be possible.

As an organization, we are committed to being sound environmental stewards and advocates for sustainability.

Is it important to you that the businesses you buy from have good environmental practices?  Join the conversation by commenting below.

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Creating a Solid Web Presence

Slaying The BadgerIn our previous post, we mentioned an independent publisher who was having success marketing titles online using less conventional techniques.

Another publisher taking an innovative approach to marketing titles is Dave Trendler of VeloPress; a company in Boulder CO specializing in the cycling and fitness niche.

He recalls the days when it was a little easier to get some exposure for a title.  For instance when Borders was still in business, Velopress would take advantage of prime placement in the store to sell copies of a book.  Dave says, “we’d send a couple thousand copies and almost none would get returned.”

One of his new approaches is to develop a unique web presence for some of the titles they promote and generate buzz in advance of a release.  He develops micro-sites using the popular content management system WordPress.

One such site is feedzonecookbook.com where prospects for the book could go and read test recipes and get valuable advice from the author in advance of release.  Dave also encouraged readers in his target audience to get involved by sending them advance copies of the book.

They were asked to try out a recipe, do a short write up on it, and send in an image of the dish they had created along with their thoughts on the experience of making it.  These snippets of user generated content were then shared on the blog and across multiple social media networks.

An additional example of Dave’s micro-site strategy was for the promotion of the title Slaying the Badger; a book about the heated rivalry that unfolded  between American Greg LeMond and French Bernard Hinault during the 1986 Tour de France.

Dave created another micro-site but for this title, he took the unique approach of writing posts that detailed the 1986 event as if it were happening in the present day.  He even included old photographs and video footage from the time period.

Dave’s strategy was to post to these blogs 2-3 times per week and also create unique social media profiles for some of them.  He would then share the content across those networks, increasing the exposure for his posts.

He admits that he had to tone it down a bit because he ended up with more than a dozen such sites which, needless to say, were difficult to keep up with.  He now uses the strategy for titles that lend themselves well to the model or that have a loftier goal for promotions in general.

Velopress has also explored the idea of having books reviewed by notable bloggers in the niche.  One thing that was really cool was how Dave went about starting this process.  For many publishers, it can be difficult to know where to start when using emerging forms of digital media to market their business.

You may hear about having a title reviewed by a blogger but how do you go about finding these people?

Using one of the most popular (and free) website tracking platforms, Dave was able to determine where VeloPress was already receiving traffic from bloggers on a regular basis.  Google Analytics allows users to view basic and also more advanced information about their websites.

Using this tool, Dave was able to see which blogs were already sending traffic to the Velopress website.

In theory, if people are reading these other blogs and then visiting their site, not only are the readers interested in the content that Velopress is producing, the people writing about it are also immersed in that niche.  Dave then reached out to these bloggers to ask if they would be interested in a collaboration effort.

Marketing content has taken on many of the characteristics of guerilla warfare.  Publishers are up against market forces that are fundamentally changing how they do business.

They have to be smart and think outside the box by using unconventional tactics and tapping into the market’s lust for digital media.

We would like to extend a big thank you Dave Trendler and Velopress for taking the time to share their story.  We also hope that others can make some use of their innovative ideas.

As a publisher, have you found success in marketing your book online?  What innovative ways have you found to use digital media to your advantage?

 

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Guerrilla Marketing Strategies for Publishers in 2013

Marketing a BookIf you’ve been in the business of selling content, odds are that life has been less than predictable for you.  The advancement of mobile technology and the way information is shared has left publishers and printers scrambling for ways to think outside the box when it comes to marketing their services.  The companies that are succeeding aren’t necessarily the largest or fashioned to promote a broad array of services.  They are doing well because they have adapted.  They are using guerrilla marketing tactics in emerging channels with customer bases held captive by their level of engagement with those channels.  We’d like to share a unique success story from Colleen Dunn Bates of Prospect Park Books, a Los Angeles based publisher.

Marketing a Book Without Mainstream Media

Publishers may be finding that the quality of the audience means more to the bottom line than the quantity of that audience.  Prospect Park Books publishes three main genres, fiction, cookbooks and humor.  The type of promotion each title and genre receives depends largely on how established an author is.  When putting together a promotion for a cookbook title, Colleen recalled another publisher who had gotten a book reviewed on a blog related to the niche that had a substantial following.  That review on a niche blog with a devout following, she learned, provided a much larger bump in sales than a short spot on a highly rated morning talk channel (The Today Show).  When it came time to promote a cookbook title Prospect was publishing, they reached out to a blogger in Paris who had previously written about a recipe for caramels that the author had produced.  They asked the blogger if he would be interested in providing a review of the cookbook and posting it on his blog.

The result?  Weekly orders for the title nearly doubled, and it shot into the top 5,000 on Amazon.com.  Colleen mentions that there was no other press going on at the time for that particular title.  On the surface, it would seem that publishers can experience far more success when the audience they are exposed to is large.  Mainstream media is still an effective way to get a lot of eyeballs on your product or service, but the quality of the audience is playing a larger role.  It is true that a large segment of the demographic tuning in to the Today Show are targets for the title Prospect was marketing, but are those people invested in the content they watch?

In contrast, followers of the blogger in Paris are heavily engaged.  Bloggers with large followings are generally thought to be leaders in their niche.  The content they produce is shared constantly, and their followers are very interested in what they have to say.  People form much deeper connections with these folks and, as a result, are much more influenced by the content they produce.  It also takes more commitment to subscribe to an RSS feed or to visit the blog on a regular basis for new content than it does to flip on your television.  It takes more effort to read through a piece of writing than it does to passively listen to a TV show while doing the dishes or responding to email.  Reaching one quality blog follower is far more powerful than reaching ten passive mainstream media viewers who may or may not care about what it is you’re selling.

Colleen was kind enough to elaborate on her success in marketing this particular title.  She says that not all content lends itself well to this model, and it isn’t a replacement for tactics like book events, authors doing public speaking, and other traditional marketing.  She says that increasingly, it is important for authors to take a hands-on approach in the relationship they have with publishers.  Authors can experience much more success if they work on building buzz through their own networks and forming deep connections with readers.

Other independent publishers are embracing the rise of digital content marketing in the information age.  According to data from the Pew Research Center, revenue from print advertising is now half of what it was in 2006.  Stories like the one from Prospect Park Books highlight a growing trend among publishers and authors.  Many are taking advantage of emerging media and the devout followers it produces.

We firmly believe that there will always be a place for print in the world of online content, just like there is a place for movie theaters in a world of streaming online video.  We would like to thank Colleen and Prospect Park Books for sharing their insight and success on marketing titles.  Hopefully others in the publishing industry can find their strategy helpful.

 

What less conventional tactics have you used to market a book?  Were they successful?  As a publisher, have you found more success promoting titles online than in traditional channels?

 

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