To help hype Jane Heller's new hardcover novel "Infernal Affairs," Kensington Publishers last week inserted a softcover version of the first chapter into 120,000 home-delivered copies of The New York Times.
Warner Publishing earlier used the same distribution technique to tease "Absolute Power" by David Baldacci, now in its eighth week on bestseller lists.
IN HOTELS, TOO
Random House is also taking its marketing efforts to a new level, experimenting with selling books in the rooms of Loews Hotels in much the same way hotel guests now have the option to buy in-room liquor, soft drinks, candy, bathrobes and umbrellas.
An unabridged edition of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" went on sale last week and will be offered in rooms for $25 for the next month. The book will be in 2,800 rooms in eight hotels nationwide.
"The economics of the book industry have changed," said Laura Shatzkin, director of advertising, promotions and publicity at Kensington Publishers. "We're competing for people's discretionary time and income. Authors are getting bigger and bigger advances. We have to engage in more aggressive marketing to get those costs back."
The New York Times effort went to subscribers in the metropolitan New York region and southern Florida, where the novel is set.
"We'll keep an eye on bookstore sales in those regions in the weeks ahead to see if it had any impact," Ms. Shatzkin said.
The publisher is also running traditional print ads in The New York Times and People.
Random House President-Publisher Harold Evans said he hopes the program with the Loews chain is the first leg of a concerted national effort that could even involve competing publishers. Random House is donating a portion of the proceeds to the non-profit group Literacy Partners.
"It could be the same as selling competing brands of liquor in a minibar," Mr. Evans said.
"I'd like to see it expanded to a half-dozen titles," he said.
IN SEARCH OF MORE BUZZ
Seeking some Hollywood glitz, Random House recently recruited Michelle Abbrecht, former senior VP-publicity at Savoy Pictures, as VP-special marketing.
"We're trying to find non-traditional ways to make reading entertaining and to market books in unconventional ways," she said. "The goal is create the same buzz around a book as exists for movies these days."
Ms. Abbrecht succeeded Jonathan Marder, who recently joined The New Yorker.