Magazine article Marketing

Woman of Letters

Magazine article Marketing

Woman of Letters

Article excerpt

The atmosphere was warm and relaxed, despite each of the three floors being the size of an aircraft hangar, the furniture was comfortable enough to envelop you and the coffee piping hot. The staff achieved that subtle balance between intrusion and non-existence - they seemed to appear out of the wallpaper when you needed them and sink straight back into it, perfectly camouflaged, when you didn't. Oh, and by the way, this place sold books.

Book retailing in the US, like most things from across the pond, is done on a massive scale. It is very different to the UK scene, but that is about to change.

Last year Borders, the second biggest bookseller in the US, bought Books Etc, and last month it appointed Louise Collinge to head its marketing in the UK. Collinge, who has always worked in publishing, will be responsible for the chain's marketing activity including appointing an ad agency for its summer launch. Borders' first store will be a mammoth 35,000 sq ft site in Oxford Street, making it one of the biggest in the UK. It is scheduled to open in August.

Aware that her first few weeks in the job would be hectic, the quietly spoken 31-year-old took the precaution of having a week off between leaving her position as retail marketing manager at Harper Collins Publishers and taking up the new role. "You are so much more creative at work if you have a life outside of it and I wanted to have a clear break between one job and the other," she says.

Leaving Harper Collins after five years must have been a wrench. Collinge joined the publisher after her MPhil in 20th century literature at Oxford: "I always wanted to work in publishing and marketing," she says, She started in 1993 on the fast-track graduate trainee programme and progressed through the ranks of contract publishing to the children's division as promotions manager. She moved onto the retail side last September.

"It has been great experience. I have worked on some fantastic books and good campaigns internally and externally," she says. "Now I want to see what it is like on the other side." Among Collinge's claims to fame is the retail promotion of last year's Booker Prize winner the God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, which she described as a joy to work on.

She also created marketing campaigns for Enid Blyton and Dr Seuss books, which she recalls with a great deal of affection. Literacy and literacy-teaching is a passion and she holds the First Certificate in Essential Adult Learning. …

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