Putting it Together

So, now we have great idea – to publish The Ultimate Beer Journal. On top of that, we have this even greater idea, The Chicago Beer Journal. Here is where things started to get complicated. Nothing like The Chicago Beer Journal has ever been attempted before: a pencil and paper beer tasting notebook that incorporates challenge/reward system and partners with an entire region’s breweries, pubs, and retailers to make an ongoing year-round game out of the tasting & review experience.

In order to source rustic, recycled materials (wood, kraft paper, pulp) to make the book I was already looking at some steep costs and low profit margins. That isn’t exactly desirable in the risky publishing world. On top of that, I somehow wanted to reward consumers with prizes for completing challenges. How on earth was I ever going to accomplish this feat?

Plus there were other questions: How many books would we publish? How were going to market and sell them? How would we get buy in from local breweries, pubs, and retailers? Here is what we came up with…

PUBLISHING

PRINT – So, we’ve decided to self-publishing this book. That means sourcing all the materials, getting equipment for binding, and registering for UPC/ISBN codes. The main journal pages are being printed between a combination of printers in Chicago, Michigan, and Toronto. Additional materials include an elastic band to hold the journal closed, Wire-O binding combs, and a protective bag to store the journal. The binding and assembly will be done here in Chicago by hand, making this a fine hand crafted item. There will also be a special deluxe version of the book with a wooden cover. Each version of the journal will have a unique registered ISBN and UPC. The book is scheduled to be printed in March 2015.

CIRCULATION – The Ultimate Beer Journal will be printed in runs of 1,000 or more at a time and will retail for $15. UPDATE 12/30 – The book will now retail for $20 just like its regional companions. The reason for this is we are upgrading some of the materials used and designing the book to be a refillable.. The Chicago Beer Journal will be printed in runs of 1,000 books at a time and will retail for $20. The deluxe version will retail for $30. We will likely place an annual limit on the number of regional books that are sold depending on sponsor participation (more on that below). The books are scheduled to be released in April 2015.

DISTRIBUTION

LOCAL – The books will be sold in local beer stores, bookstores, and stationary/gift shops. We are currently working through a list of 174 local retailers to select the most appropriate ones to sell this product. It will be sold on consignment with a 60/40 split. Brewers and pubs will also be able to sell the book for a more attractive 50/50 split. We are also exploring the possibility of partnering with a few farmers markets to sell the book there.

ONLINE – The book will be sold online through our website, Amazon, Etsy, and Facebook. We are also launching a pre-sale event in January through Kickstarter which will offer the book at a $5 discount off the normal retail price along with an exclusive deluxe version of The Ultimate Beer Journal. We are partnering with local and national craft beer tastemakers to advertise the Kickstarter.

WHAT IS IN IT FOR BREWERS?

FREE PROMOTION – Each brewer included in The Chicago Beer Journal will receive 2 note-taking pages for free which will each list one beer. Additionally, the brewer’s information (location, website, social media, tours? tasting room? food?) will be included in the front of the book which will serve as a table of contents as well as a passport stamping area.

TASTING CHALLENGES

Owners of The Chicago Beer Journal will receive one stamp on their passport pages for each beer they have reviewed in the journal. Stamps will be given out at official participating “stamp granting” locations (which will be listed on our website in an interactive map). Each stamp will be branded with the name of the location who granted that stamp. Barrel Aged Books will reward users who complete challenges involving collecting stamps and those who “complete the journal” with exclusive prizes.

For example, the notebook will feature a brewer of the month and a pub of the month. Each month, if owners of The Chicago Beer Journal photograph themselves with their book (hopefully displaying a recently received stamp) on location at the brewery or pub of the month and post that picture via social media with the hashtag #chicagobeerjournal, they will receive an entry into a monthly drawing for prizes. Oh, and they can enter through Twitter, Facebook, and Instragram – three possible entries per month. The prizes may include exclusive glassware, koozies, bottle openers, posters, etc.

In order to fund those prizes, we realized that we would need a little bit of sponsorship.

SPONSORSHIP

Sponsorship will be sold in runs of 1,000 books at a time. Sponsors may choose to reserve their spot and lock in the price on future runs of 1,000. Currently, we are limiting reservations to 4,000 additional books (we may very likely cap the number of regional books printed annually to 5,000).

ONE MORE BEER – Brewers will have the opportunity to receive 1 additional tasting page per book to list another beer at a cost of $100 per run of 1,000 books ($0.10/book). This will be limited to 20 breweries. This also includes guaranteed premium placement in the front of the book and a prominent listing in the table of contents. Prominent listing means (a) larger font, (b) color listing (c) optional inclusion of logo.

In the back of the book there will be a two page, full-color Seasons of Beer calendar feature. Each month may be sponsored by a brewer and a pub.

BREWER OF THE MONTH – Twelve brewers will have the opportunity to purchase a “Brewer of the Month” feature in the book for $250 per run of 1,000 books ($0.25/book). This will be limited to breweries which either offer tours or serve food on site. Brewer of the Month sponsors will receive a 3rd tasting page at no additional cost (and the placement perks), a full-color, full-page (5″ x 7″) ad in the back section of the book, and they will have their brand listed on the Seasons of Beer calendar feature. Sponsors will also automatically be made “stamp granting” locations and will receive three official rubber passport stamps unique to their own brand.

Brewer of the Month sponsors must offer an exclusive promotional item or discount to carriers of The Chicago Beer Journal for their sponsored month. We recommend using your rubber passport stamp on your full page ad as a means of keeping track of promotions redeemed. We invite sponsors to get creative! Ideas for promotions: Discount on a brewery tour, discount at gift shop with X purchases, receive a free appetizer, desert, or gift with X purchases, etc.

Brewer of the Month sponsors may also receive a 4th tasting page for only $50 per run of 1,000 books ($0.05/book).

Brewer of the Month sponsors may choose to make their month exclusive – preventing a pub from co-sponsoring the month – for an additional $250 per run of 1,000 books ($0.25/book). To do this, the brewer must fulfill the requirements for pub sponsors. This will automatically grant the brewer a 4th free tasting page, however this will not include an additional ad page. In order to receive two ad pages, the brewer must purchase the pub sponsorship separately at $400 per run of 1,000 books ($0.40/book).

PUB OF THE MONTH – Twelve pubs will have the opportunity to purchase a “Pub of the Month” feature in the book for $500 per run of 1,000 books ($0.50/book).

Pub of the Month sponsors will receive a full-color, full-page (5″ x 7″) ad in the back section of the book, and they will have their brand listed on the Seasons of Beer calendar feature. Sponsors will also automatically be made “stamp granting” locations and will receive three official rubber passport stamps unique to their own brand.

Pub of the Month sponsors must offer an exclusive promotional item or discount to carriers of The Chicago Beer Journal for their sponsored month. We recommend using your rubber passport stamp on your full page ad as a means of keeping track of promotions redeemed. We invite sponsors to get creative!

Here is one idea a promotion that fulfills the requirements: Receive a stamp for every Chicago beer purchased year round. Get one free app/desert after receiving X stamps. During our sponsored month, receive double stamps!

STAMP GRANTING LOCATIONS – Any pub or retailer of craft beer may become an official stamp granting location for a flat fee of $50. Stamp granting locations will receive two rubber passport stamps exclusive to their brand. They will also be listed on our website on an interactive map that shows all stamp granting locations. Additional rubber stamps may be purchased for $15 each.

There will be the possibility of future contests in the book where we give out prizes for collecting all the stamps from official stamp granting locations in a certain neighborhood, or something else that is fun and related to collecting stamps. We really want to build value for owners of The Chicago Beer Journal by directing them towards the finest establishments for purchasing their beer. In turn, this build value for those establishments by creating a perpetual marketing avenue that doesn’t cost anything.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Well, now we figured out the overall initial execution of the idea, we needed to get down to nuts and bolts of the business: incorporating, creating a logo, sourcing materials, managing costs, building partnerships, marketing, etc.

How we accomplish all of this will be revealed in future blog posts, so stay tuned.

Coming up next: Creativity in a Box – Now that my pie-in-the-sky ideas are out there, what are the real world limitations on making this thing work? And how will I overcome them?

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  • Mathew Powers

    What a wonderful idea! I currently own a chicago-beer-based blog (A Pint of Chicago, http://chicagonow.com/pint-chicago) and my subsequent fan page for FB (http://facebook.com/pint-chicago) and twitter and blah blah. 🙂 Let me know if you need anything! I also write for Chilled Magazine and Michigan-based sommbeer.com, so beer writing is my life, and Chicago is my home! I also do beer history as part of my graduate work in history, so I’m a total nerd. Anyway, I love this idea — very cool!!! If you need any writing or editing, let me know. If not, I’ll just do my part to promote it. It’s a great idea. Big, big cheers! (sorry I rambled, but this excited me. 🙂 )