The Library of America: Where the 19th Century Meets the 21st
- by Michael Stillman
The Library of America offers spectacular introductory offers.
For 2012, Mr. McCarthy reports a very active printing schedule. “We will publish 25 titles in 2012, ranging from volumes collecting the works of writers new to the main LOA series, including the historian Barbara W. Tuchman, noir novelist David Goodis, and Little House author Laura Ingalls Wilder, to new volumes in on-going multi-volume editions of the works of Kurt Vonnegut, Thornton Wilder, Arthur Miller, and Jack Kerouac, to special out-of-series publications, including centennial editions of two classics by Edgar Rice Burroughs and an unprecedented collection of the writings of New York artist Joe Brainard. Criteria for selection are literary merit and historical significance. We endeavor to offer a balanced list each year in terms of kinds of writing, historical periods represented, and potential audience, and we are always interested in broadening readers’ understanding of what is meant by 'great American writing.'”
Nevertheless, even the most worthy of endeavors has to deal with economic realities, and as we know, these are particularly difficult times for booksellers. How is the Library of America faring during these trying times? Mr. McCarthy responded, “While The LOA has by no means been immune to larger forces affecting publishing and the economy as a whole, sales have been reasonably steady, with increased sales online more or less off-setting declining sales through our traditional subscription service. We remain very optimistic.” He also noted that the Library will be releasing its first electronic book shortly, and while not all of its books will be available in this format, “it will be an important part of our program moving forward.” Mr. McCarthy did note that sales receipts do not cover the full cost of research, editorial work, royalties and such expenses involved in producing these fine editions, their income being supplemented by donations from individuals and foundations.
And what, then, of where we started, from that advertisement I saw next to an online weather forecast? Does that really work to sell classic American literature? The answer is yes. The Library did not specifically run the ad there. It was part of a campaign placed through Google, using audience metrics they have figured out. And, I might add, Google must have some good formulas since they placed the Library of America ad in front of a writer for the Americana Exchange. No wonder online advertising has become a major way the Library of America reaches new customers.
To visit the Library of America online, just click the following link: www.loa.org.
The Library of America also has some spectacular introductory offers that you may want to see. Just click here: www.loa.org/LOA-offers.