*Alloy Online Moves Into Teen BooksAlloy Online Inc. is expected to announce a partnership today with Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers to publish Alloy Books, a series of 12 books that will provide teen content drawn from popular areas of the Alloy.com Web site.
The first four books - "Slam," "DIY Beauty," "Dreams" and "My Mom Reads My E-Mail" - will be released in August. Four more will follow in the fall and the final four will hit shelves next spring.
Content will come from a variety of sources. "Slam," for example, is a popular poetry section on the site. The book will feature teen submissions from Alloy.com as well as poets ranging from T.S. Eliot to Maya Angelou. Musical celebrities such as Missy Elliott, Jewel and Mary J. Blige will provide tips throughout the book about creative writing. The Alloy.com address will appear on the bindings and the cover, as well as in the text of the books.
"It sounds like a great idea," said Irma Zandl, president of New York's Zandl Group, a trend-consulting firm that covers the teen market. "Teen girls really do buy books and are more reading oriented. I'm sure [Alloy] has intelligence as to what people are responding to since the site gives them a chance to market test [the content]. This has all of the earmarks of something that might work."
There are 31 million teens in the United States and they spend $141 billion annually, according to the MarketSource Corp., Cranbury, NJ.
Alloy hopes its venture into the publishing world will help the site secure a larger part of this lucrative market.
"For us, the reason this is so important is that each one of these books carries the Alloy brand name. We're big believers that an Internet company is only as big as its brand name," said Matt Diamond, CEO of Alloy Online, New York. "Any time you get the books into the hands of teens, any time you touch teens, you reinforce brand and continue to drive traffic to the site."
Alloy has fully committed to this venture. It acquired 17th Street Productions, which will co-produce the content and design, in January. This company is responsible for such popular teen titles as the Sweet Valley Series and Roswell High.
This acquisition is extremely valuable in terms of the marketing effort, according to Diamond.
"By acquiring them we have added to our footprint all the different areas of offline media," he said. "Companies that don't have a real world presence have to spend millions on marketing."
17th Street has also helped produce Alloy's first book venture-the Fearless series. Alloy's Web address appeared on 260,000 copies which began distribution in October 1999.
The online cross-promotion enabled readers to come to the Fearless section of the site to explore the main character Gaia Moore's e-mail, poetry, journal entries, download pictures, screensavers and chat with other fans.
Similar initiatives will coincide with the release of the new book series
To promote the series, Alloy also will mention the books in its offline catalogs as well as create piggyback campaigns with its print, television, outdoor and other advertising efforts.