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