Volume 11 | Feb 2013 h6

Penguin

Live Where You Are

Feature

Penguin has kicked off the year with a bang in all corners of the world, beaming into concert halls, offices and living rooms with a string of high-profile live (and virtually live) events. Venues in New York, Delhi and London have been packed to the rafters, with fans of all ages appearing in their droves to see the likes of John Green, Seth Godin and Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. While Penguin India held the sixth event in it's now established Penguin Lecture series at the tail-end of last year, Penguin UK delivered it's first ever standalone Penguin Live event in January, complete with branded bags and some pretty cool Penguin Live lights (see below). And while the world celebrated all things Austen last month, Penguin Australia created an online experience like no other, granting readers a true insight into the world of a much-celebrated classic.

Read all about these events below...


Awesome Antics with John (and Hank) Green

Celebrating the one-year anniversary of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (TIME Magazine's #1 fiction book of last year - the first YA title to receive such an honour) and the UK paperback release, Penguin have staged some major events on both sides of the Atlantic.

Here, Penguin UK's Tania Vian-Smith fills us in on the UK tour (and below, we hear from Penguin US's Erica Glass about the Penguin Live event in New York):

Tania: "When a book is as wonderful as The Fault in Our Stars, it is such a privilege to work on promoting it. And, whilst one side of my PR work on this campaign was as ever to spark the media's interest, the other was to organise a 1,000 seater UK & Ireland tour. Those who don't know about John Green (PS. by now you really should), will not be aware of his huge online fan base. This has mainly grown from a long-running series of video blogs that he and his brother Hank have been posting on YouTube as the vlogbrothers (both hilarious and educational!) Their vlogs have been viewed by over 300 million and John's twitter following alone exceeds 1.2 million.

John-Green-UK-singing

 

When planning the tour, it was essential to engage these fans. To this effect, having secured the first five core events, I worked with the digital team on launching a Penguin Facebook poll giving John's fans the chance to vote for an extra location. 3,000 votes were cast and Manchester won. When we released tickets for that event they sold out in under 6 hours! Indeed all events sold out well in advance. I have never witnessed anything like this kind of frenzy for tickets.

On the 1st February John and Hank performed two 900 seater events back-to-back at London's gorgeous Cadogan Hall. The audience went absolutely wild when John came on stage, no wonder some are dubbing him the literary Justin Bieber! John talked very movingly about the book (you have read it, haven't you? If not, do - it features on The Bird's must-reads of 2013 list.  and Hank sang songs about Quarks, Harry Potter and The Anglerfish, all topped off by a joint rendition, with audience participation, of The Proclaimer's biggest hit, 500 Miles. Yes, the resemblance is definitely there!

John-Green-reading

 

As I hoped (and feared) practically everyone stayed to get something signed afterwards; A trainer literally hot from your foot (really?!) And though we are waiting for final book sales, the events co-ordinator at Waterstones has already commented that he's never seen event book buying like it before. Plus since a copy of the book was included in the ticket price, we know 5,000 copies during the tour are guaranteed.

It's Dublin, Manchester and Glasgow next and I can't wait to see again the incredible reaction of John's largely, but by no means exclusively, young adult audience. Seeing this audience clap and cheer a duo who talk about books and Science, the importance of empathy and celebrating intellectualism is one of the most heartening things I've witnessed in my entire career. John and Hank it really is a privilege."

Penguin US's Erica Glass had an Awesome Evening at New York's Carnegie Hall - one of the world's most celebrated performance spaces - in January:

Erica: "Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the #1 Bestselling The Fault in Our Stars (which has now spent 56 consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list), "An Evening of Awesome" was a sell-out with nearly 3,000 people in attendance and thousands more watching the livestream online. John and Hank shared the stage with musicians the Mountain Goats and Kimya Dawson (formerly of The Moldy Peaches), as well as hilarious YouTube sensations Ashley Clements and Daniel Gordh, stars of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries; Grace Helbig, creator and star of My Damn Channel; and Hannah Hart, star of My Drunk Kitchen. Neil Gaiman added even more literary star power as a surprise guest, thrilling audience members and performers alike. One of my favourite moments happened at the end of the evening, when the performers danced onstage along with John and Hank's parents, wives and others, including Penguin's Julie Strauss-Gabel and Elyse Marshall.

NeilGaiman

 

Elyse, Associate Director of Publicity for Penguin Young Readers Group, put the entire Penguin Live production together. I asked her about the evening and she (modestly) said, 'When we started on the road to Carnegie Hall, we had no idea just how wonderful the evening would turn out to be. It exceeded all our wildest dreams, thanks to the unwavering support of the Penguin Young Readers team and the collaboration of John Green.'

The event was given rave reviews by just about every media outlet imaginable from The New York Times to Entertainment Weekly to countless blogs. As Jenny Brown said in Shelf Awareness: 'Digital Book World was happening right down the street, while every publisher's dream was realised on the stage at Carnegie Hall: two artistic, creative brothers using technology to unite a worldwide community.'

John-Green-US-singalong

 

Hank Green made a hilarious video of the experience that you can watch here.

This Penguin Live event was streamed live through a partnership with Tumblr. More than 200 meetups were held worldwide and over 200,000 posts appeared on Tumblr with relevant tags to the evening's festivities. The entire event has been viewed over 140,000 times on YouTube, with nearly 20,000 comments to date. Here's the link.


Bold and Brave with Seth Godin

Seth Godin pulled in crowds of devout fans, media professionals and curious self-improvers at a Penguin Live event at the Mermaid Theatre in January. One of the organisers - Portfolio's Richard Lennon explains all here:

SethLiveLights.png

 

"Portfolio Penguin is lucky enough to publish Seth Godin; not just a bestselling author but the world's most popular business blogger and a superlatively great public speaker to boot.

Seth is one of the few people in the world to have spoken at the prestigious TED conference twice (Steve Jobs only managed it once). To mark the publication of The Icarus Deception - his wonderful new book exhorting us to be bold, be brave and take risks in our lives - it seemed rather appropriate to do something bold and slightly risky ourselves, and invite him to come to London and speak at the first ever standalone Penguin Live event.

Seth bags article

 

Since Seth hasn't been to the UK in over three years it's not surprising that devoted fans snapped up the 600 tickets to come and join us at the Mermaid Theatre pretty swiftly. When they arrived those lucky enough to bag a seat were treated to a Penguin bag (geddit?) with two copies of the book - one for themselves and one, in Seth's words, for 'the person who this book will most upset' - before hearing Seth speak passionately and eloquently for an hour, explaining and building on the themes of the book.

Most author talks would finish on that note, but since the aim of Penguin Live is to adopt a genuinely creative approach in bringing readers and writers together and to offer our readers something special, we decided to throw the audience a couple of curve-balls. Seth had organised 'Icarus Sessions' all over the world to give fans a chance to stand up in front of their peers and talk about the work they've done that really matters. So we asked five members of the audience to join Seth on stage and spend 140 seconds telling the room what they've created.

Tweet

 

Finally, Seth talked the audience through a new piece of social media technology we had built for the occasion, allowing attendees to tweet a personalised book cover to friends and followers - who were subsequently offered a free copy of the book, delivered straight to their door. We got a flurry of responses, around half a million people saw the cover of The Icarus Deception jump into their Twitter feed, and Seth's ideas spread that little bit further.

So the verdict on Penguin Live, take one? Seth thought it was 'extraordinary'. We enjoyed it enormously, and it sounds as though the audience did too. And take two? Watch this space."


Looking to the Future with A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

The Penguin Annual Lecture, now in its sixth year, has quickly become one of the highlights of India's cultural calendar. Penguin India's Hemali Sodhi helped pull the event together:

"Arising out of Penguin India's commitment to bring leading thought leaders from around the world into direct contact with Indian audiences, the Penguin Lecture has in the past featured such luminaries as Thomas Friedman, Amartya Sen, Ramachandra Guha and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The 2012 Penguin Annual Lecture was all the more special because it was taking place in Penguin India's 25th anniversary year, and in fact marked the end of a year-long spate of celebrations. It was only fitting that the person to deliver the Lecture this year was the highly respected visionary and former President of India Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who is also Penguin India's biggest selling author of all time.

Authors

 

For many years now, Dr Kalam has been focused on transforming India into a developed nation by the year 2020 - in fact, his first book with Penguin India, India 2020, published over a decade ago, was precisely on this subject. As India's economic growth comes closer over the years to attaining that goal, Dr Kalam has now begun focusing on equitable and sustainable growth for the country that would benefit every citizen. He has been reaching out to audiences worldwide on this key subject, and has addressed over 15 million youngsters so far. His lecture, titled Beyond 2020: A Vision for the Future, captured the essence of his research and thoughts on this fascinating subject.

Penguin Annual Lecture

 

A scientist first and foremost, Dr Kalam laid out the parameters for inclusive and sustainable growth at the very beginning of the lecture and then outlined ways in which India was poised to achieve these - by looking at the example of Uttar Pradesh, India's largest and most populous state. The lecture was supported by a powerpoint presentation that showed the myriad data and statistics that Dr Kalam referred to. Data-driven and logical, the lecture was also inspirational, as Dr Kalam's talks always are. A full auditorium of more than 600 people, comprising mostly college students and young professionals, listened spellbound and took copious notes. Outside, another 500 people watched the lecture live on a video projection.

lecture-audience

 

The lecture was followed by a lively question-and-answer session with the audience where Dr Kalam fielded questions ranging from issues relating to sustainable development to administrative failure and corruption. Now eighty-two, Dr Kalam moved about on stage with the enthusiasm of a schoolboy and engaged directly with everyone who had a question. He recounted several inspiring anecdotes from his life and, for the most emphatic life lessons he had to impart, asked the audience, in his trademark way, to 'repeat after him'.

The Penguin Annual Lecture by Dr Kalam aroused a tremendous amount of interest among young people and was extremely well covered by the print and electronic media. The lecture will form the core of Dr Kalam's next book with Penguin India, Beyond 2020."

The lecture can be viewed here.


Hang(ing) Out with Austen in Australia

Penguin Australia has been celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice with a series of Google+ hangouts featuring Susannah Fullerton (a bestselling author and President of the Jane Austen Society in Australia) and award winning British actress Miriam Margolyes. Penguin Australia's Sally Bateman reveals all:

"The hangouts took place across five nights at the end of January, live on +Penguin Books Australia, and offered readers an in depth insight into the world of Jane Austen's most-loved novel, from lead characters such as Elizabeth Bennett and the wonderful Mr Darcy, to the story on screen (classic films to zombie adaptations - who remembers 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'?!) and an Austen style-guide, complete with bonnets and pantyloons. All this was teamed with readings from the book by the fantastic Miriam Margolyes and an exclusive musical performance by +Lizzy Spit (featuring a special Pride and Prejudice-inspired tune!)

We're always looking at how we can create irresistible online experiences for our readers and collaborating with Google+ really helped bring the world of Jane Austen to life. So whether it's looking at the clothes, the manners and the dialogue - or just enjoying the romance - readers were able to experience what is a truly wonderful classic, in a new, and exclusive, forum."

You can view the videos here.

So Penguin has broadcast to enraptured audiences of 10,000 plus in just two short months. What's next we wonder… watch this space.

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