From the December 1, 1995 issue of CEN

Marketing Savvy Takes New Computer Guide Far

By David English

GREENSBORO, NCóThe Whole PC Family Encyclopedia, inaugural product from Greensboro-based startup PC Press, is gaining the kind of wide release generally reserved for established publishers.

Company President Robert Lock, well-known in the industry as the founder of such magazines as Compute!, PC Gamer, and Game Players, says he has signed distribution deals with Ingram Books, International Periodical Distributors, and AMS. "We're in five of the top six computer retailers and two of the largest book chains in the country."

The encyclopedia, released in October, is something of a cross between a content-driven how-to book and a high-priced glossy magazine. It contains some advertising, an unusual move that Lock says enables him to keep the 304-page paperback's price down. (It has an SRP of $16.95.)

Written for beginners, the encyclopedia dispenses advice on computers, software, peripherals, on-line services, and the Internet; there is also a generous selection of full-color screen shots and other computer-related graphics.

Lock says the book attempts to combine "true editorial content with a visual richness that reflects the environment that we're writing about."

Lock employed some untraditional promotional and advertising ideas to gain sellers' and consumers' attention. Even before the book went to the printer, he sent sample preview pages to distributors and retailers.

He also placed full-page ads and editorial excerpts in several in-flight magazines. The ads, which included the logos of major retailers carrying the book, will be seen through the end of the year by some 8 million passengers aboard United, Continental, Delta, TWA, and American West flights.

"I don't think anyone has launched a book in the personal computer field with that level of retail-supportive advertising." Lock says. He plans to update the encyclopedia every year, possibly adding a CD-ROM to next year's edition.

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