January 21, 2022

NYPL Unveils a “Deal for the Books”: Buy None, Get Everything Free! (4th Annual Spoof Ad)

From the New York Public Library:

The New York Public Library has unveiled its fourth annual Black Friday spoof “ad” and it’s a “deal for the books”: a “Black Friday Free for All” where New Yorkers can “buy none, get everything free!”

The 2021 installment of the tongue-in-cheek campaign— first launched in 2018 to call attention to the best deal of any season: free books, services, and programs from one’s local library—brags that everything at the Library is “freer than ever,” with “0% interest loans, plus free returns.” It also points out that “the Library’s prices have always been fine, but now they’re fine free,” highlighting the Library system’s historic elimination of late fines in October of 2021 (removing a barrier to access for many New Yorkers). That decision has already contributed to a 10 percent increase in overall visits and circulation across the NYPL system, which serves the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

The non-traditional ad concludes with an urgent call to action: “but don’t wait! These deals won’t last long . . . they’ll last forever!”

This year’s spoof ad was delivered to the Library’s 1.3 million email subscribers this morning, and is in the format of a slightly-hysterical Black Friday retail email, complete with digital buttons which flash the phrases “Show Me The Free,” “Did Someone Say Free,” “Free! Free! Free! Free!” and “Did We Mention It’s Free?” When one clicks any of the buttons, they’re taken to nypl.org/blackfriday where they get more information on how to sign up for a library card to unlock the deal: access to millions of free books and e-books, as well as classes and programs. The Library specifically recommends books from its Best Books of 2021 released earlier this week. The lists offer hundreds of recommendations from expert library staff members for kids, teens, and adults, making them the perfect starting point for those looking for their next great read, titlles to take along during holiday travel,  . . . or perhaps stocking stuffer ideas.

The inaugural 2018 version of the Black Friday ad poked fun at traditional department store display ads, the 2019 version played off of busy, electronics ads, and the 2020 version offered a “Black Friday travel deal” – an escape from the pandemic through reading with “the only passport you’ll ever need: a library card.”

Each year, the campaign has contributed to spikes in library card signups, web traffic, and donations: for example, last year on Black Friday, the Library saw 543 virtual library card applications submitted, an 84% increase over the NYPL’s daily average for the fiscal year. Donations to the library also increased: the library received 130 donations that day, up from 78 during the previous year’s campaign.

“The Library’s Black Friday ads have become a beloved annual tradition that we look forward to every year. These ads, of course, generate an always-needed chuckle, but they also call attention to the best deal of any season: public libraries, and the worlds of knowledge, adventure, opportunity, and fun that they offer all people every day,” said Tony Marx, president of The New York Public Library. “It’s a funny but important reminder that libraries are here and will always be here for whatever the public needs–good books, expert recommendations, helpful classes, fascinating programs, and, sometimes, a good laugh.”

2021 Ad (Click to View the Complete Advertisement)

Click to View the Complete Ad

Promo Video

See Also: NYPL Black Friday Ads (2018-2020)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.