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Primedia Business Magazines & Media Inc.

Bookspan Rolls Out Hispanic Book Club


March 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Primedia Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved. 

Hispanics, now the largest minority in the United States, are being targeted in a major push by Bookspan for its Spanish-language book club Mosaico.

The book club partnership budgeted $2.5 million for Mosaico's 2003 acquisition program after early mail tests delivered "spectacular" results, said vice president of marketing Meg Roe. A rollout mailing of 1 million pieces will be sent this month, and three other large mailings will follow later on this year.

The firm also will test some DRTV spots in October on cable and national networks. The lead-generation spots will run in 60- and 30-second lengths.

Despite the success, testing for the new club got off to a rough start.

The 400,000-piece first mailing went out in early September 2001. The 9/11 terrorist attacks happened just as the packages were reaching mailboxes, and the test didn't meet its targeted goal.

Still, Bookspan monitored response and watched the universe as a whole for its commitment to membership. "You need a couple of months of solid sales and retention before you go out and mail another direct mail campaign," Roe said. "It was time very well spent for us."

In the meantime, some print ads tested well in Hispanic publications, and Bookspan decided to go out with a larger test last September.

Despite the limitations on finding names of Spanish-speaking readers, a 700,000-piece mailing drove responses 100% over estimates. Those projections were based on the typical responses to some of the 30 Bookspan book clubs like Book-of-the-Month Club and The Literary Guild.

The offer featured three books for $3, plus a tote bag. Ninety percent of the mail pieces went to rented names * primarily Spanish-speaking book buyers and magazine readers * and 10% were sent to addresses in selected ZIP codes and names overlaid from the house file.

Another 75,000 pieces targeted readers in Puerto Rico, Bookspan's first mailing to the island. Inside the envelope, a 24-page full-color brochure outlined the books for sale and the offer.

The mailing was so successful that Bookspan had to devise a way to reduce the number of responses the next test was likely to draw. The reason: It had yet to build the club's membership base to a level where it could leverage good prices for the books it featured.

"We had to increase the volume to change the economics," said Sonia Margalef, Mosaico's editor in chief. "We had to push the offer to be more expensive so it was self-liquidating until we got the publishers to bring the book prices down."

The second test, which mailed last December to 900,000, featured a harder offer of three books for $3 each, plus the tote bag. The mailing still beat projections by 50%. "If we made that decision in any other book club, direct mail would come to a screeching halt," Roe said.

The December test also offered books in English, which didn't go over well. Bookspan, which is jointly owned by Bertelsmann A.G. and AOL Time Warner Inc., has built Mosaico's membership base to about 68,000 with these two mailings.

"This is a major growth opportunity for us, and there is a huge market out there," Roe said. "And in the book club market we don't find that too often."

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