Thursday, 30 January 2014

Twitter's power - Finding Cinderella

This morning Atria Books announced via twitter that they are going to publish in print form Colleen Hoover's Finding Cinderella. This short novella, which is part of Hoover's Hopeless series (but also stands alone as a short story) was originally published for free as an e-book in October 2013. However, the praise and admiration by Hoover's fans for the novella has prompted Atria's decision to print the book. The readers made their voice heard specifically through the social medium of Twitter with the hashtag #findingcinderella

Clearly, the publishing industry, like so many other industries, is being touched by digital and social media advances in more ways than one. Twitter, obviously, has many advantages for businesses wishing to achieve mass-scale advertising and publicity. Hashtags can go global in a matter of hours and the exposure Twitter creates is immense.

However, it is not just a one-way street where users are bombarded with advertisements and product launches - though some days it might seem the case. Instead, where Twitter's brilliance lies is in the exchange of dialogue and information. From pop stars to sports stars, heads of state to heads of companies, Twitter allows the 'ordinary' person to contact people otherwise considered to live in some other-worldly-more-powerful-than-me place. Celebrities interact with their fans and - crucial to this discussion - businesses interact with their customers. After all, what are readers if they aren't customers of the author? They equally have the right to praise or condemn the quality of the product they receive, and apparently, they also work in the line of supply vs. demand. For Finding Cinderella, Atria Books saw the demand, hence the supply.

With this kind of publisher-author-editor-reader interaction unfolding publicly before everyones eyes, its no wonder that new books are increasingly being printed with a book title hashtag on the front of their jackets. Suddenly, book clubs have become viral - no longer are we restricted to a weekly meeting to discuss how we responded to a book. Instead, Twitter gives the platform for global discussion and reviews.

This event not only teaches us about the way in which Twitter has reconfigured the client-provider relationship, but also teaches us a little something about the e-book revolution. 

What lesson is that exactly? Well, it seems that for many readers, for all its positives (practical, simple, cheap - or free in this case!), an e-book is not quite enough. Among readers, there is still the demand for having something that can be put on a book shelf, or piled up on the bedside table. Evidently, tangibility is still something that readers value - certainly when they love the book! For publishers, this event seems to showcase that while e-books may allow for pre-print publication marketing campaigns, printed books still have a viable, and seemingly vocal, market demand.
So I guess all that's left to do now, is see what all the fuss is about!
*download of Finding Cinderella complete*

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