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Book Brand Madness – a case study

9th January 2016

At TripFiction we just love finding new books that will transport a reader to a new location, for a bit of armchair travel coupled with a good storyline.

For a while now I have been wanting to check out the Grk series – children’s books set around the world, taking their young readers on journeys of adventure and intrigue. Young Tim and his intrepid canine sidekick, Grk, are transported by the author to exotic locations like Delhi, Paris, New York, the Seychelles and more. What a wonderful way to introduce children to new and different cultures by reading books set squarely somewhere different!

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I acquired Grk and the Phoney Macaroni, set in Italy. I guessed from the cover that Rome was to be the setting, as there is a clear picture of the Coliseum on the book cover. However on the back the author has gone to town on the alliteration, promising a trip to the “home of pizza, pasta and the leaning tower of Pisa”. I had bought the book thinking it was set in Rome, but then had a wobble thinking it might be set elsewhere, possibly Pisa, or maybe generic “Italy”…. the lack of clarity had me dithering, which is something you really don’t want your reader to experience. You want to give them clarity.

IMG_3184Then, when I came to pull my review of the book together I looked closely at the author. On my paper copy it stated Joshua Doder. On the TripFiction site all the Grk books had been entered under the name of Josh Lacey. Lo and behold when I popped over to Amazon, there was Josh Lacey cited as the author. (A momentary phew! as head of the admin department at TripFiction). However, to confuse matters even further, on Amazon there are two identical photos of the author, one captioned Josh Lacey, one Joshua Doder, squarely set side by side. Now, as a reader I really do like my certainty and clarity, I like to know who has written the book (who doesn’t?). There are only a few authors who can get away with using different names for different genres; yes, J K Rowling alias Robert Galbraith works fine because the identities are quite separate. In this instance they are not, it is confusing and it muddies the value of the brand. The author’s IMG_3183name is fundamentally his/her central brand. It is the name that pulls readers in, it is the experience and presence of the person behind the writing that is fundamental!

This rather discombobulating experience then left me pondering the value of the “brand” that is attached to an author’s name. As readers, an author’s name is a byword for the quality, type of writing and subject matter. Just think of the ripple effect caused when people question Shakespeare’s authorship and moot Christopher Marlowe or any of the 80 candidates instead. Shakespeare is Shakespeare. We all know what to expect. We don’t like to have our view of Shakespeare and who he was undermined.

This is not rocket science. One name only and stick with it. And as for the admin department at TripFiction, do we stick with Lacey or move to Doder? A question we simply cannot answer.

If you would like to see our review of Grk and The Phoney Macaroni, just click here.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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