Use Reading the West to Drive Sales and Attention

Most of us are into our third week of social distancing/quarantine now.


The most amazing part of all this is the speed at which your businesses were able to pivot into essentially brand new business models. Being ‘very online’ was anathema to many stores, but you invented new ways to communicate with your customers and talk about the books you love and want to sell.


The challenge moving forward will be maintaining energy, momentum, and sales through the crisis.


We are proceeding with the Reading the West Book Awards voting schedule as planned to celebrate some amazing books and authors — and offer you new digital content to use in your sales efforts.

Important Dates

  • Wednesday, April 15 – All employees of MPIBA bookstores can vote for the winning books on
  • Monday, April 20 – The public announcement of the shortlists and public voting begins on
    • Our public announcement includes an email to the Reading the West email list, social media push, videos of regional authors announcing the shortlists, and a press release to media across the twelve-state region.
  • Wednesday, May 20 – Winners announced via email and social media.

Action Items

  • Add the shortlist titles to a collection or page on your e-commerce platform. You can divide them by each list, or adults/kids, or only feature the lists you’re excited about. Be sure to encourage customers to vote for their favorites at in your introduction.
  • Participate in our Virtual Display Contest! Send us a screen shot of your virtual display and/or tag @ReadingTheWest on any social media posts promoting any of the shortlist titles or the voting ballot and you’re entered to win. Every tagged post is a new entry, so more posts give you better odds of winning! Five winners will receive a $100 Visa Gift Card.
  • Include a note about the award and voting in one of your regularly scheduled emails, or send an announcement as a replacement or addition to your regular email schedule.
  • The MPIBA email announcement will be sent to you on Wednesday, April 15. Feel free to copy it word for word and send it to your customers on April 20 when public voting begins.
  • Did you make a virtual display? Be sure to link graphics and text in your emails to your sales pages.
  • Announce the shortlists! Our turnkey graphics are available here.
  • Encourage your customers to buy the books from you and vote for their favorites on If you use a social media scheduler like HootSuite or, go ahead and schedule several Vote Now posts and then forget about them.
  • Interact with the authors and publishers. They’re cooped up, too! Be sure to tag them in any appropriate post. We put together a list of author and publisher Twitter and Instagram handles for you here.
  • Reach out to your favorite authors on the shortlist via social media or through the publisher and ask them to do a digital appearance with you.
  • Host a virtual book chat about one or more of the shortlists – a handselling session for five books at a time. Record your staff conversation and broadcast or open it up to the public to discuss the books on the list.
  • Use the picture book finalists for virtual story times.
  • Plan your own broadcast of the winners announcement on May 20. Let us know you’d like to do this and we’ll make sure you have early access to the winners list.
When you’re back in your stores, the books from the shortlists will make a quick and curated display. Reading the West Book Award Stickers for the shortlist and winning titles will arrive at stores by mail later in April. The stickers are low tack and suitable for all book covers.

Watch for the in-store display contest details this summer. More prizes to come!