Social Networking for Publishers

coin stackIt’s funny what you can find in your local papers if you look hard enough. I flipped through the Technology section of The Star yesterday and was surprised to find a Reuters piece on how social networks are helping publishers sell books.

Oh no … more Web 2.0 hype.

Faced with the challenge of marketing a book with a vulgarity in the title, publisher Rick Wolff turned to Internet blogs and social networking sites to spread the word about his latest business book.

Bookstores were scared of The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, so Rick Wolff sent emails by the bulkload to bloggers and readers.

There apparently is some serious regard for the power of the Internet: Wolff was invited to talk at a panel discussion on ‘the Internet in publishing’ at the BookExpo America trade fair. I’m regarding this as an early toe-dip into the uncharted waters of marketing books on the Internet … what I’m afraid of is that the market would be so saturated with bloggers screaming “read this book, read this book!”

But there are some interesting concepts mentioned by the article: for instance – Harper Collins Children’s Books used Myspace to promote a competition for teenagers to write successive chapters of a novella, which was then voted on by site visitors as the book progressed.

Oh, and apparently Harper Collins is a 26 year old male in Myspace.

I’m not entirely comfortable with publishers making headway into the online review sphere (remember that article about book reviewers being out of print?) – but then again there raises the question of just how influential are bloggers in selling books? I’m reminded uncomfortably of an annonymous comment in Critical Mass:

I find it interesting that a review of a book in the Sunday NY Times is often much more positive than a review of the same book in the Times week day arts section. Many reviews today sound like marketing instruments and you get the feeling, at least with respect to books from well-known authors, with well-connected publicists, that the reviewers are “bought off” or at least have bought into the hype. As a result, I am more likely to pay attention to a review of a book by an obscure author than of a Cormac McCarthy, a Jonathan Safran Forer etc.

One possible problem? Publishers using PayPerPost to get you to review their books. I shudder at the thought of that.

PS: the article mentions Shelfari, and states that 76% of users there would but their next book from site recommendations. Really now? We’ll see.

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Category: News · Publishing