I've been seeing advertising all over the place for Chocolate, the new Verizon phone/MP3 player. I don't need another phone -- I don't use the ones I already own -- but if it were an MP3 player and, say, an M&M dispenser or mini s'mores maker, I'd buy one in a heartbeat.
Interesting trademark move, too. Whoever thought up the slogan "Everybody loves chocolate" ignored the fact that lots of people including my daughter loathe chocolate, but as an easily-remembered tag line it works well. Now I wonder, does this mean I have to ask permission of Verizon every time I want to use the word chocolate? That's going to be a bit of a pain. Doesn't Hershey's already own it? (Where is Bill Peschel when I need him?)
I'm not a phone person, but I do like items that serve more than one purpose, because they save space and time. I love my handheld organizer, which doubles as an MP3 player and does just about everything else but shop for groceries for me. My DVD player, which also plays my old VHS tapes and records them on DVDs and downloads stuff from my digital and video cameras, is probably secretly realigning the Hubble telescope right now.
I like bonuses and extras, too -- I recently gushed about Paste magazine because they send me free music CDs and sometimes video DVDs in every issue. We need some of that in publishing.
Nonfiction books often include CDs, especially any computer or techno ref books, but an excerpt or preview of the author's next book is about the best freebie that most fiction books offer now. Yet if Elle can put eye-watering perfume sample strips and little packets of liquid pancake makeup in every issue, then why can't we figure out a way to add a little extra bonus for our readers?
Harlequin has been great about giving their subscription service readers something extra over the years; everything from wineglasses to crystal pendants. They're currently offering three free books if you buy six (see ad in the back of Harlequin Presents novels out this month) or one free book online with Free Book Fridays on their shopping page (if you buy two books on Friday, you get their weekly featured title free.)
If the Publishing Fairy gave me carte blanche to add something free to my novels, I'd include a CD of the music that inspired me, or an e-book set in the same universe, or a poster of a painting or other artwork I love (the fold lines of the print would, of course, magically disappear the minute the reader unfolded it.) If I could get a bag of M&Ms or a Hershey you-know-what bar in there without it melting on the pages, that would be cool, too. Or a quilt, magically packed into one of those tiny sponge-animal capsules you drop into hot water for one minute. A queen size wedding ring quilt beats a green sponge T-Rex or blue sponge Raptor every time, right? You might want to drop the magic quilt capsule in the bathtub instead of a glass of water, though . . .
How about you -- if you could get freebies with any novel, or add one or more to your own, what would you like to give or receive?