You might not believe that if you look at my personal library though.
I still don’t own a Kindle, and I have not taken to reading my books online. I still sit down with Vanity Fair and Entertainment Weekly. However, I read Business Week and WSJ entirely online. It seems for me, business is an online affair and my personal predilection for fantastical fare still occurs offline. I have done audio books, both the highly dated, CD-versions and the ones from i-tunes, which can be good or bad. Call me old school. I obviously embrace the new forums, dear reader, as this is where we connect.
I still go to Barnes and Noble (though recently, Borders free rewards program has made inroads into my spending habits) and like to touch a book or two or ten. I spend more when I can hold the things I find so dear. But recently, Stephen King’s approach to marketing a new book of short stories caused me to take pause. He caused me to spend time online – as a matter of fact a great deal of time – online on a book, before it had been published, before I could touch it, run my hands over the embossed title and scan the pages to find a thread of character.
N is here is visual. It is a video series of 25 short installments that bring you into a story. Its comic-book style, magnificently illustrated and displayed in a fabulous viewer to tell the story in a way King could embrace. In embracing new business models, it seems a cast of thousands was involved – Marvel Comics, Scribner, Simon and Schuster and CBS Mobile, plus the advertisers.
I could not find details on how successful the program was or was not. King’s new book of short stories containing N is currently #59 on all of Amazon, but it’s Stephen King, so that doesn’t tell us much. (of course, Vampires dominate the list this Christmas week on Amazon, and a little JKR – providing Potterheads a Christmas wish, plus some Sookie Stackhouse, owing to HBO’s True Blood – more on that below.)
I am not sure where this will take us next, whether the book is dead, whether we shall continue to see other formats become more interactive or whether other books will continue to undertake interesting marketing approaches. Mr. King’s content tends to be highly visual and phantasmagoric for those with the imagination to dive into the word pool with him. You learn to appreciate the tour while holding your breath. It makes for great media.
I think with most social media as we test them, we all hold our breath and wait for results, good or bad. Piloting is critical to knowing what works and what doesn’t – what can be done and how we can push our limits. I suspect N is Here was not an inexpensive proposition, but it was probably less expensive than the full blown media tour, with the capacity to reach far more people in far more places, generating more talk. In checking on Youtube, the series was lightly viewed comparatively. It never took off virally, by my estimation. But I am glad he tried and rest assured he will continue to try.
Lest you think all authors are embracing this, I did take a quick tour over to Stephenie Meyers site. DULL….Even the movie site is not socially connectd to the phenom that is the movie. Charlaine Harris – the person who created a very different novel than what’s on HBO is not designed to be engaging either. So, as Mr. King ventures into 3D worlds on his site, and embeds video and quizzes, others choose to remain squarely where they are. Whether it was gather.com’s early exploration of Harry Potter – with it’s Snape: Friend or Foe campaign, which gained a nice degree of traction and subsequent marketing or the advent of online bookclubs, or even the visually arresting N is here, publishers and authors need to continue to innovate and explore.
Read on dear reader, read on.