THROW THE BOOK AT THEM: Talbots has rolled out a give-a-book-get-a-book program to give shoppers yet another reason to visit its stores.
Through the Talbots Summer Book Club, the retailer has set up a book exchange where customers are encouraged to drop off a favorite read that has impacted their lives, and in turn they can pick up another book that someone else recommends. Understated bookplates (that reference Talbots) are being provided to customers to write a note about why that book is meaningful to them before it is passed along to the next reader. (May also happens to be the American Association of Publishers’ “Get Caught Reading” month.)
Talbots’ end game is to create a makeshift lending library, which will lead to repeat visits by shoppers all summer long. The plan is to have thousands of books in circulation in time for the summer book reading season. At the end of the summer, any books remaining in stores will be donated to local organizations, allowing these novels to impact communities on a larger scale.
As of Memorial Day weekend, Talbots will be expanding the Book Club through a partnership with Random House that will tout some of the publisher’s leading writers. Each week, a different author will be spotlighted in stores and on a designated landing page. On deck are Elizabeth Strout’s “Anything Is Possible,” Nancy Thayer’s “Secrets in Summer,” Lisa Wingate’s “Before We Were Yours,” Fannie Flagg’s “The Whole Town’s Talking” and Susan Elia MacNeal’s “The Paris Spy.” Once in full swing, shoppers will be able to get a sneak peek of chapters from their latest books, as well as exclusive interviews with big-name writers.
While Amazon’s widening shadow on book sales continues to be well-chronicled, independent book stores are known to have a foothold in many communities. As of last year there were 1,775 independent bookselling companies running 2,311 stores, according to the Statistics Portal. Vacationers, beachgoers and weekenders aren’t the only ones reading books. Ninety-five percent of American libraries offer summer reading programs to forestall what is known as “the summer slides,” when schools are on break, according to the American Library Association. While Talbots’ core client base is well past college and high school, the chain will be offering a reason to read online and in stores.
Talbots has also recruited some well-read influential women to help spread the word about their favorite books. “Dear Evan Hansen” Broadway producer Stacey Mindich, ABC’s “The View” executive producer Candi Carter, New York Times best-selling author Kelly Corrigan, Dress for Success’ Joi Gordon, model Niki Taylor, The Everygirl cofounders Alaina Kaczmarski and Danielle Moss, best-selling author and journalist Diane Clehane and Apartment 34 founder Erin Hiemstra will be sharing their selections.