A Perfect Marriage: Social Media and Books

Looking back at my title, I see how it can be confusing at first, especially to those who only read the title but don’t read the accompanying blog post. However, I still stand by my cheesy title, because I think it encompasses exactly the event that spurs the writing of this post.

Continuing my exploration on digital media and its effect on the publishing industry, I’ve come across a really interesting story that shows how traditional publishing companies can use these new digital technologies to their advantage.

We all know that Twitter and Facebook have the ability to bring users with common interests together, regardless of location or time zone. The Superbowl was a perfect example, as stated by my fellow writer and digital writing classmate, Alison. Throughout the game, people posted live tweets to keep users updated. (You can read more about social media during the Superbowl on Alison’s post, here.) Twitter brings together people from various places, who have the means to hold a conversation across these time and space barriers, using Twitter hashtags, retweeting, and responding directly to tweets. But now, this unique sort of conversation that Twitter allows users to have is being taken to a whole new level, by none other than the book publishing giant, Penguin Group.

Penguin Group has taken to starting a book club on Twitter, using the hashtag #readpenguin to keep readers connected. Each month, Penguin will announce a book on their Twitter account and invite readers to share their thoughts via the #readpenguin hashtag. At the end of each month, readers will have a chance to hold a conversation with the book’s author, over Twitter. It’s basically a virtual book club. But this time, the book’s author is a guest at the book club. How cool is that?

This book club, in my opinion, really is the perfect marriage between new media and traditional media, between social media and print media. Publishing companies have jumped on the digital bandwagon, embracing the new opportunities that social and digital media provides. Twitter, and other digital and social media, gives publishing companies the chance to reach a much broader, larger audience. Through social media, publishing houses are able to hold book clubs that aren’t limited to a single location and a single time–users across various locations can be a part of the book club and can interact with members of the book club at any moment. Word-of-mouth is taken to a completely different degree, as readers’ thoughts on a book can spread much more quickly and can be received much more effectively. This combination of social media and books can also encourage others to join the book club and read. This new kind of book club is proof that publishing industries aren’t being beaten into obscurity by the advent of digital books and digital media. On the contrary, the best qualities of digital media are augmenting the publishing industry and, quite possibly, encouraging literacy by bridging the gap between social media and books. Perhaps the number of literary devotees (myself included) will grow, as publishing companies begin to embrace digital media and its advantages.

Nota bene: For anyone who is interested in joining Penguin’s book club, you can follow Penguin Group on Twitter via @penguinusa. The book for this month is called The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown.

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.” –Henry David Thoreau

6 Replies to “A Perfect Marriage: Social Media and Books”

  1. Interesting post! I think the character count on twitter would make for an interesting book conversation. It would force you to be very specific and concise, which I think is a good thing.

    1. Wow, I actually hadn’t thought about that! You bring up a great point, and for me personally, I’m pretty wordy, so I’d probably find that challenging. But I think it does help; it forces you to pack a lot of meaning into just a few words, so you have to be very careful about word choice. I think that’s another way that people can improve their writing and continually engage in writing activities. Thanks for that!

  2. This is interesting! Talking to others online about a book would be difficult because you would have to explain yourself in detail. However, I think this would be fun because it allows flexibility when we are already online so much!

    1. I agree! Especially in my literature classes, usually when I have a comment, I say it in much more than a 140-character sentence(s). I think it poses both challenges and advantages–challenges because it is difficult to explain yourself in such a limited character count, and you’d have to be very careful about how you phrase your comments so they won’t be misunderstood; advantages, however, include the fact that people are reading these texts and engaging with them on both a personal and social level. It’s a perfect mix of the best qualities of reading and writing, of solitary and social activity.

  3. Wonderful information! Thanks for finding and sharing this post. Penguin’s online book club is so innovative. What a creative way to engage readers, connect a community of global readers, and encourage feedback and dialogue. Oh, the creative and innovative ways to use social media.

    1. It really is innovative! Penguin’s use of Twitter really brings out the best aspects of social media–how it can be used to spread ideas, encourage literacy, and keep an industry such as the book industry alive. I can’t wait to see how Penguin’s book club grows and develops!

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