It’s a tried-and-true in-store promotional tactic: the book signing. Authors tour bookstores, meet their fans, and sign copies of a book that was bought in the store that day.

How can book signings be updated for the 21st century? Barnes and Noble, with its Nook devices and its rapidly expanding Nook Boutiques, has an opportunity to create a total product experience around its Nook devices and digital books. Let's call it a Nook Signing, a theoretical Forrester product idea for Barnes and Noble to consider.

Leveraging its in-store Wi-Fi, Barnes and Noble could host a series of Nook Signing events – special book signing events only for owners of Nook devices (or those willing to buy them in store that day).

The event would feature marquee bestselling authors like George RR Martin or other authors with vociferous, loyal fans. (Barnes and Noble would have to incentivize these authors).

Attendees would get to meet the author, but more importantly, would receive an in-store download over Barnes and Noble’s Wi-Fi, receiving unique, brand-new content on their Nooks. For example, Nook Tablet and Nook color devices could receive a video from George R.R. Martin offering up an exclusive tidbit about his next book.

What happens next? Nook Signing attendees use their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts to tell the world the news about George R.R. Martin’s next book … which they learned about at the Nook Signing.

What does this event accomplish?

  • It creates a better overall product experience (for both the Nook and for the author's book) that spans digital and physical.
  • It promotes buzz that highlights the unique experiential properties of owning a Nook product, compared with reading the same book on another device.
  • It drives additional foot traffic into the store, associating the Nook brand with popular authors' brands.

This vignette shows how product strategists working in emerging digital product markets have to address social factors and conventions – like meeting an author at a book signing – inherent to their product areas – but update them for the digital era.

Under-construction Nook Boutique, Framingham, MA. Photo by J. P. Gownder.