Indigo encourages novel democracy

The retailer has launched its first-ever Teen Read Awards, a web-based contest designed to engage youth with the brand and get them talking about titles beyond Twilight.

Young adult literature has been gaining steam as one of Indigo’s biggest categories, growing 150% in the last five years and becoming the second-largest category for the Canadian book retailer.

In an effort to build on this relationship, the Toronto-based company has launched the Teen Read Awards, an inaugural contest that offers teens a chance to nominate and vote for their favourite books and characters.

Launched this week, the Teen Read Awards are housed on, and are being promoted with an in-store, online, print and cinema media strategy. Creative on the campaign was handled by Toronto’s Capital C and media was purchased in-house. Cineplex Entertainment is a media sponsor for the contest, and although plans are still in development, promotion through its Scene loyalty club email database is likely, and inclusion in its theatre pre-show is scheduled for later in the summer. Indigo will also promote this contest in its e-newsletter, which goes out to 1.2 million recipients, and its website, as well as including ads for it in its standing media buy and FSI with the Globe and Mail. An online media buy, also still in development, will also promote Teen Read.

‘This has been one of the fastest-growing segments in our stores over the last five years. We’ve done things in the past to reach out to this customer and we were looking for fresh, new and fun ideas to reach them,’ Trevor Dayton, VP kids and entertainment, Indigo Books and Music, tells MiC.

‘Through things like the Breaking Dawn launch, and the Harry Potter launches [we know] that teens are incredibly active and incredibly engaged customers and they live in social media, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to tell us what their favourite books are and to debate it among themselves.’

The Teen Read Awards website links to the Chapters-Indigo Facebook page (with over 90,000 fans) and a just-launched dedicated Twitter feed, and also keeps a running tally of which books are leading in votes. Authors of books included in the contest are encouraged to promote their books through their own social media pages as well. Teens can vote online at, or at the ‘search’ kiosks located in the bookstores.

Teen Read has a multi-phase rollout that includes first-phase voting until July 26, in which teens can vote for books in four categories and nominate a fifth book in each category that they feel deserves to be included. After that, voting expands to five categories and voting lasts until mid-September, culminating in a gala event in Toronto at which the winners will be announced. The gala event is still in development, but is slated to include celebrity hosts and musical guests. Sponsorship and partnership opportunities for the gala event are still available, Lisa Huie, manager, PR, Indigo Books and Music, tells MiC.

While promoting Chapters and Indigo as a destination for teens is important to the brand, Huie says promoting non-Potter-esque titles is a nice side benefit to this type of contest.

‘One of the things that I’m personally excited about is the opportunity to expose an engaged and passionate audience to titles beyond the classic teen franchises,’ Huie says.