Though I’m both an avid reader and social media user, books and social networking seemed like an unlikely pairing to me. Maybe it’s because they appeal to me in completely different ways: reading is an isolated activity that requires concentration, while social networking connects me to a large group of people and requires a shorter attention span. Still, I believe both activities have a place in the modern world, and it’s exciting to see how books and their publishers adapt in the age of technology. Book publishers know that every hour a person spends on the Internet is an hour that he or she is not reading a book, but rather than compete with social media sites, publishers can use them to reach out to readers.
Major publishers such as HarperCollins and Scholastic have turned their attention to Pinterest, a relatively recent addition to the social media scene that is now the third largest social network. In short, it’s a virtual pin board where users can organize and share links, articles or images they find on the web. The majority of Pinterest users are young women and mothers—two core demographics for many publishers, particularly those who produce children’s books, young adult (YA) novels and cookbooks. This, combined with Pinterest’s growing popularity, makes the site an inviting space for publishers to engage readers and promote their brands.
The goal of this social media use for publishers is promotion, but it’s promotion done through dialogue and sharing. This is an interesting approach to marketing that seems perfect for books. I usually discover many of my favorite books through friends and family, so I’m always looking for recommendations. With social media, publishers can alert readers like me to their products in a way that is informal and friendly.
In the grand scheme of things, widely accessible social media is relatively new. This means that publishers, along with everyone else, are still figuring out the best ways to use it. Still, there’s no question that it’s good to have publishers in on the constant conversation happening on the Internet. And when the noise gets to be too much, you can always turn off the computer and pick up a book—possibly the one you discovered on a social media site.