Thursday, December 6, 2012

could twitter be a bookstore?


Day 2 of trial done. Exhausted. Amidst the tweets, retweets, interviews and double- and triple-checks with the Chirpify guys that the backend stuff is operating smoothly, I've been thinking about what it all means for the future of commerce; for the economics of publishing and book marketing; for authors not named Kingslover or Gladwell; and for an individual's online persona, brand or whatever you want to call it. Avatar?

Let me back up a moment. For the first time ever--as far as we can tell, anyway--we're selling digital copies of a book straight thru Twitter. Just a tweet and click and the whole file lands on your virtual bookshelf. (See this Fortune piece about Chirpify for more info.)

I have wanted to try this for a while, but the real trailblazer here is a forward-looking marketing guy at Da Capo Press. This wouldn't have been possible without his willingness to experiment, even though if you say "in-stream social commerce" to almost anyone from a traditional publishing house, they would probably ask if you repeat the question in English.

There is, of course, a lovely synergy between The End of Money and this rather sci-fi way to pay for stuff. We don't need to get into that here but suffice it to say I'm seeing a lot of this sort of thing:



Beyond the future of money ideas, though, is the chance to participate in something that is refreshingly upbeat. I haven't a clue whether social commerce is going to take over the world. No one does. But more moping about the dubious future of books and writing as a career strikes me as less than productive--and not exactly fun.

So far our experiment is getting some decent attention, although most of the write-ups (here, here, here) are variations on the same quick-hit theme, and no one has yet taken on the publishing industry angle in a serious way. (A talented Marketplace reporter is also working on a piece that will run soon. Be sure to tune in.)

Meanwhile, a huge thank you to Twittersphere friends and strangers alike for spreading the word, buying the book and--because this is Twitter--bringing the funny. One guy delivered this concise zinger: "@davidwolman sell." The winner to date, though, is from London-based science journalist Ed Yong:




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