I was in the Hudson Bookstore at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and saw something unusual on the counter. It was something that I had seen at the Book Expo of America but never in a retail store. The cover read: “Free Preview Excerpt” for two of Phillip Margolin’s novels, "Lost Lake" (on sale March 1, 2005) and "Gone, But Not Forgotten" (1993).
In the trade, this is known as a BLAD (Book Layout and Design). They are available at the Book Expo of America for bookstore buyers to sample a few chapters of a novel before buying. There is just enough storyline to pique the reader’s interest, but not give away the plot. The BLAD has the exact cover art and interior page layout that the final book will have.
This particular BLAD is very interesting. It is four by five and a half inches in dimension, printed on newspaper-grade stock. It has a four-color cover with a glossy film laminate. The BLAD is 96 pages. All these dimensions make the BLAD easy for the printer to run.
What makes this BLAD clever is the way in which the publisher, HarperCollins, differentiated the two novels in the same BLAD. One novel is printed right-side up and the other novel is printed upside down. The reader can read the first 48 pages of "Lost Lake" and then flip the book over and read 48 pages of "Gone, But Not Forgotten."
We printed only one BLAD for a customer. It was entitled The Healthy Hedonist by Janet Bridgers. We printed it for her immediately before the Book Expo of America in 2001. We also printed several books with the right-side up and upside down method. Mostly we printed these books for bi-lingual books where one story was in English the other in Spanish.
When I saw this BLAD from HarperCollins, I immediately called Ellen Reid at Little Moose Press. She has an author, Louise Gaylord, who has two fiction titles that are the first two in a series of mystery novels. The first novel is entitled "Anacacho" and the second is entitled "XS." I suggested to Ellen that she print a BLAD with “Preview Excerpts” of both novels. This may be a key component of reaching bookstore buyers.
The opportunity is available to any book publisher that wants to promote one or more titles. Sometimes all that is needed to generate more printing for the book printer is to suggest ideas like printing BLADs, particularly as we approach Book Expo of America each year.
For a copy of Phillip Margolin’s BLAD, contact HarperCollins or visit a bookstore near you. HarperCollins is located at 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.