Saturday, March 14, 2009

Social Networking For Books

On March 3, I posted quotes from Robert Stein, the director of the Institute for the Future of the Book and a Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics. One of the things he said in his presentation at the TOC [Tools of Change] Conference was his new definition of a book:
"A book is a place where readers, and sometimes authors, can congregate."
Stein believes that, in the future, reading will be a social experience. He further believes the principal role of publishers in the future will be to build and nurture vibrant communities for authors and their readers.

I was reminded of Stein when reading Thursday's The Bookseller this morning. Jayne Ramage, co-owner of The Watermill Bookshop, talked about her children's reading groups.

Of course, this isn't a new idea. I can remember taking my six-year-old niece to a reading group at a bookstore twenty years ago.

Ramage acknowledges those early efforts here:
Initiatives of this kind will be familiar to other booksellers, but it has been incorporating them into an ongoing programme, with an active membership, that has given the Watermill's reading groups a unique character. Over three years the programme has mushroomed into several groups, attended by 50 children weekly.
The Watermill groups are also targeted to a wider range of children, including older kids.
Nor does it end there as we find that titles studied by a group of five or six children can go on to achieve amazing sales through word of mouth. Finally, be passionate,­ it rubs off!
This is a case of a bookseller utilizing a primitive form of social networking. Publishers and booksellers should use the power of the Internet to do a more sophisticated version, incorporating an enhanced ebook initiative.

See you on Monday.

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