Starting in October in London, the events will feature TV presenter Clare Balding, herself an author, in conversation with fellow celebrity writers including Graham Norton, Caitlin Moran and David Nicholls. People attending will also be able to pose their own questions to the authors.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Gail Rivett, marketing director for Blinkbox, says the aim with these events is to build the ebook service into something more than just a site for buying books. Tesco wants to create a reading community, helping to make connections between readers and authors.
“We want Blinkbook Books to be more than just the books people buy, we want to provide a service to readers, connecting them with authors they really enjoy in person at an event,” she adds.
The events cost £45 to attend but Rivett says Tesco does not see them as a revenue-generating service, with the firm planning to break even on them. The aim instead is to increase awareness of Tesco’s ebook service with those that haven’t used it and boost retention among current customers.
Tesco will launch a marketing campaign across print and social media to promote the events, working with the authors to drive up interest. It is also working with publishers to create digital content to share with readers based on their previous purchases and favourite authors.
“This is an exercise in promoting authors and ourselves in a way that is more directed to engaged fans. Retailers’ messaging is no longer just about controlling messaging, it is about conversations with brands. This offers us a platform to let consumers talk about books and authors both online and in the real world,” she says.
Tesco launched its ebook service in March and it now offers more than 300,000 titles. It is part of Tesco’s Blinkbox entertainment division, which also includes films, TV shows and music streaming.