OK, it’s now officially #followreader catch up week, with the third of three recaps from our weekly Twitter discussions.
This discussion took place July 30, after we posted a dialogue with Random House sales reps and bloggers Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, and then invited the two of them to join our friends on Twitter in a #followreader conversation.
Working from the premise that ”the entire book business culture and tradition is up for grabs now,” Ann and Michael proved fearless in their willingness to reassess the business and where it can go in these digital times. The result was the best kind of Twittersation – a long riff on fresh ideas with scores of improvisationalists, that turned into one of our most intense and creative #followreader conversations to date. Many thanks to Michael and especially Ann, who was able to stay for a full hour!
[NOTE: Due to technical constraints, I've reconstructed the conversation primarily from the Twitterfeeds of @annkingman and @mkindness, in addition to my own. Apologies to the many other participants in this conversation whose smart comments I was not able to retreive.]
Here are some of the highlights:
How can we keep books high on the cultural radar?
@AnnKingman: I’d love to see more salons, where people talk about book they’re reading or love, not a traditional book club
@charabbott: You could say that #followreader, #litchat, #tbc, #editorchat and #TuesBookTalk are all newfangled book salons.
@AnnKingman: I think the salon can work online and off – Twitter, blogs, Goodreads, etc. are all kind of online salons
@AnnKingman: Offline book salons are not as popular as online, but there’s potential
@charabbott: Maybe the key is creating offline parlor games with books. I once invited eight friends over on Oscar Wilde’s birthday to read one of his plays aloud.
@jnyrose: Free books are nice. But hanging out with large groups of book-obsessed people is fantastic.
Who might be the tastemakers in these emerging book salons?
@annkingman: Indie e-mail newsletters are great, and we are starting to see more indies with blogs, which thrills me.
@mkindess: There are customers who look to booksellers for recommendations, why not editors too?
@annkingman: If you read a book you love, would you want to read another acquired by that editor?
@annkingman: Last three non-brand-name books I loved were all acquired by same editor, but I didn’t know it at the time. Now I’ll read anything she buys.
@mkindness: I think readers would be interested ito hear from the editor who brought them The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
@charabbott: Yes, I watch some editors and agents, like Susan Kamil and Nicole Aragi for fiction, and Eamon Dolan for nonfiction.
@annkingman: Publisher and editor extremely important for bookstore buyers because they’ve learned who to trust. Why can’t that carry over?
@maggiedana: Some niche readers have learned to trust some niche publishers – it’s the general houses that seem interchangeable
@annkingman: If we can get our “raving fans” to buy more books, discover new writers, why not give them the info to help them do that?
@DonLinn: I suspect “people don’t care about publishers or imprints or editors” because publishers don’t expect them to, and act accordingly.
@janetursel: Maybe books should have a list of credits just like movies. Acknowledgement sections aren’t enough.
@booknerdnyc: Maybe like this: ”From the editor who brought CLOUD ATLAS…”
@mkindness: After the idea of “following” editors has been established: page at back of book: “From the same editor…”
@victoria finlay: Love the idea of an editor’s name searchable when looking for a book.
@charabbott: Although crediting editors runs quite contrary to the traditional culture of the business
@annkingman: Yes, but the entire book business culture and tradition is up for grabs now.
How is the traditional role of the sales rep, and publisher, changing?
@mkindness: More contact with consumers, which I love. Not just selling the books anymore!
@mkindess: Consumer nights with reps are becoming “events,” especially around the holidays.
@AnnKingman: As book sales reps, we are in stores to see what’s “really happening,” not to look at spreadsheets.
@charabbott: So you bring a reality check back o the publisher, which can otherwise be a bit of an ivory tower?
@annkingman: A lot of marketing used to be aimed at the bookstores, who would then market books to readers. Now there’s more of a shift to reaching the reader directly as well.
@annkingman: I’ve worked with most of my bookstores for 15+ years, so I feel like a partner with them and can tailor my presentation for them.
@annkingman: As we talk more to regular readers in bookstores, I am stunned by how fascinated they are with the publishing business
@annkingman: I think we need to throw out much of what we know about “the general consumer.” Not sure that exists anymore.
@annkingman: We have to move out of the bookstores to where readers or potential readers are.
@annkingman: We all need to do everything we can to keep books interesting and exciting – we are losing readers, and need to create them.
What else about traditional publishing should change?
@booknerdnyc: Know what I think would be awesome to get to the general public? Book release dates!
How effective are book trailers – are readers talking about them?
@mkindness: I think they will be more effective if they get more clever and go viral. Right now you need to look for them.
@annkingman: I think book trailers are great for giving books’ fans and stakeholders content to share
@shayera: As a public librarian, I’ve never had a patron say to me that they heard about a book because of a book trailer
@annkingman: I’m not sure a trailer will sell a book on its own, but it can be help to spread the ideas and mood
@annkingman: I think trailers need to have some context to make people watch them
How people will find e-books in independent stores?
@annkingman: I’m eagerly awaiting a device/e-book platform that indie stores can offer their customers
What do you think of the Fall 2009 title lineup?
@annkingman: It’s the best she’s seen in her 20+ years in publishing – so many great authors with new books.
Don’t miss our next #followreader conversation this coming Thursday, August 13, from 4-5pm ET. To follow to our discussion in real time, go to Twitter Search and type in #followreader. To add your questions to the discussion, tweet them to moderator @charabbott with the #followreader tag. And to contributute comments to the discussion, use the #followreader tag.