Remember the book party? It’s the one-night only, martini-fueled marketing tool publishers have used for decades as a platform for building buzz around a fresh new book. They’re seen as the lavish French kiss publishers give their authors before the long road of big book sales. There’s just one problem- they don’t work. In the digital age, the book party can actually mean something. By developing a strategy that leverages online and offline tools, authors and publishers have the opportunity to grow vibrant and omnipresent communities that will serve as the definitive marketing tool. Laurel Touby, who built a multi-million dollar media company fueled by parties, will discuss the importance of community in the business of books.
Laurel Touby started her career at Young & Rubicam, in the Media Planning department, back when there was one! After three years trying to break into the Creative Department at Y&R, she busted out of the Ad Agency business for good. After a long “stint” as a journalist (working for everyone from Working Woman Magazine to Business Week to New York Magazine), she launched her business, mediabistro.com.
The original idea for mediabistro.com was cooked up in 1994, when Touby— who was still contributing to Glamour magazine at the time—and a friend decided to host a mixer for media people. About 10 editors, writers, and other content creators came to that original cocktail party at Jules Bistro in the East Village. Attendees bought their own drinks and enjoyed casual after-work bonding in the company of like-minded people. The parties quickly grew, and soon Touby had 4,000 of New York’s top media talent on her email list. After creating a web site in 1996 and adding features such as job listings, bulletin boards, classes, e-classes, and a freelance marketplace, Touby’s business began to take off. Today, 800,000 media professionals have registered for various mediabistro.com services around the world. Users log upwards of 7 million page views a month.
Born in Oahu, Hawaii, Laurel grew up in Miami (before South Beach was hot) and graduated from Smith College with a degree in economics. Promptly after marrying Jon Fine, the Media Centric columnist at Business Week, she moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn (long after it was cool).
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