Mailchimp launches virtual book festival on global streaming platform

The company has partnered with the Decatur Book Festival since 2015.

Email marketing company Mailchimp has launched a virtual book festival on its global streaming platform, featuring long and short-form literature, essays, films and an original podcast.

"By the Books: A Collection of Rising Voices" includes inspirational pieces by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow; a compilation of exclusive literary essays (curated by Ashley C. Ford); and author conversations from rising literary voices, such as Cathy Park Hong, Curtis Sittenfeld, and Danez Smith. The podcast, "The Books that Changed Us," is hosted by Aaron Lammer and Max Linsky, with new episodes released each week.

"Our summer reading partnership with the Decatur Book Festival has long been one of my favorite Mailchimp programs, and when the festival was cancelled this year, we had to find a new way to promote these authors facing disrupted book launches and an uncertain moment in publishing," said Sarita Alami, director of programming for Mailchimp Studios. "By the Books is an attempt to take the book festival experience online, to curate new conversations, commission new writing, and provide a space to engage with stories that we want to share."

Mailchimp worked with Kin and Code and Theory to bring the site to life, and Oscilloscope Laboratories licensed the festival’s films. Kin and Code and Theory also teamed up with Mailchimp in March for its #SupportTheShorts SXSW initiative.

Code and Theory designed and developed the site experience, created a graphic identity system inspired by books, including virtual "bookshelves" and interactive objects, like headphones for the podcast section. The agency also selected a warm color palette inspired by Henri Matisse’s 1907 "Flowers" painting to connect with the idea of a summer reading list.

Brent Buntin, CMO of Code and Theory, said: "When Mailchimp approached us to build an experience for By the Books, we didn’t think twice. They are an amazing partner with a purpose driven mission to support the underdog, which everyone can appreciate. We’re excited to see this come to life and everyone enjoys the content as much as we do."

Kin helped come up with the idea and name for the program, focusing on the importance of elevating diverse authors and perspectives as well as rising literary voices.

"When we pick up a book by a fresh new voice, it reshapes our perspective. It gives us a different lens to see the world through. Something new to stand up for. This virtual book festival experience stands for just that," said Sophie Ozoux, who co-founded Kin with Kwame Taylor-Hayford nearly a year and a half ago. 

"Our creative campaign encourages visitors to pick up a new perspective by shining a light on these fresh voices and titles using design, copy and animation," she added. 

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