Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sounds like a candy, but it's not: Bit O' Lit

Have you guys seen this? I missed the launch, but Buzz, Balls & Hype brought it to my attention, and it looks intriguing. Plus, as I'll point out in a bit, it may have some potential for children's/ YA authors...

"Bit o’ Lit is a booklet-sized magazine that is handed out for free to commuters in Washington, DC as they board the bus or train on Monday evenings. The booklet’s primary contents are book excerpts, paid for by publishers, which passengers read on their ride home.

We believe that while readers support the idea of reading new books, in practice, they are hesitant to risk their time and money on untested books or authors. This is undeniably why there were no new authors among the thirty bestselling books last year.

With Bit o’ Lit, we give readers samples of new books at the key time: when they are bored on their long ride home. Thus, Bit o’ Lit brings new authors to the public’s attention in an unprecedented way. Readers will be able to judge for themselves whether or not they enjoy the writing."

I'm interested in this effort because 1) they are supporting local authors as well as authors who are doing book tours at local stores, like Politics and Prose. 2) They actually included a YA title as one of their excerpts---The Death of Jayson Porter by Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner Jaime Adoff. 3) They had a nice article featuring
some humorous, practical tips to up your family's reading time. 4) If I were commuting daily, I'd read it. I don't know if I'd rush out and buy any of the books afterwards, but I'd certainly take a free gander at a few pages. 5) Kids and teens do ride the Metro. All the time. So how about a kid edition? exciting as it sounds to have your work promoted to thousands of Metro riders, the one sticky part may be that line "paid for by publishers." It's $150 a page for those 4-6 page excerpts, even though the magazine sells ads, too. This $600-$900 fee is supposed to cover per-page costs for printing and distributing 20,000 one-time copies. (See their FAQ for the nitty-gritty.) But will it result in higher book sales? Will enough commuters step off the train and go buy a whole book? Or will the booklets be fun to read, but not cost-effective for a publisher? As a local author, I'll be waiting to see. And to see if they include more children's/YA titles.

I'll let you know the next time I ride the Metro on a Monday. Anyone seen this yet? Jennie? Susan?


  1. I picked up the June 2 issue. The excerpt from "The Story of a Marriage" by Andrew Sean Greer has pushed that book onto my summer reading list, so I guess it's working. And I loved the tip on getting kids to read by telling them they have go to bed at 8 sharp -- unless they want to read, in which case bedtime could be pushed to 8:30. (From a Bit O' Lit article by Shannon MacDonald.)

  2. I don't get to take the metro to work, so I haven't seen it... I'll have to get Dan to snag me a copy.

  3. Madelyn, I love that tip, too, and I used it with my own kids---back when they had to go to bed before me. Worked like an absolute charm. My son would curl up with Calvin and Hobbes and I swear he learned to read in that "extra" half hour.

    Thanks, Jennie! Or rather, thanks, Dan!


R-E-S-P-E-C-T (or you will be deleted)

You can receive followup comments to this conversation by checking the "notify me" box below the comment window.