The Unlikely Marriage of Reading & Tweeting

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Many have waxed ridiculously about how Americans will never read again now that Oprah Winfrey has taken her talk show (and, hence, her book club) off the airwaves. It’s a silly comment, but one that carries a considerable amount of weight considering that the club was responsible for dozens of best-selling books, millions of sales and a nationwide conversation about reading.

While Winfrey says she hopes to continue the book club in some form on her new network, others have stepped in to fill the book club void using an unexpected tool — Twitter. While Twitter and its limited length may not seem like an ideal format in which to discuss books, the idea has caught on… and could be the catalyst to turn Twitter into a platform for group members to communicate amongst themselves.

Professor (and the guy who coined the term “crowdsourcing”) Jeff Howe has partnered with The Atlantic magazine on a Twitter-based book club called 1book140. Starting June 1st, Howe and his followers have been reading Margret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, a choice pulled from the suggestions of more than 1,400 book loving Twitter users. Atwood herself is so intrigued by Howe’s idea that she promises she’ll be joining in the conversation later this summer. Howe is clearly on to something here when both a literature magazine and an acclaimed author choose to get on board.

This book club and the others sprouting up like it signal an interesting change for Twitter. Maybe we can actually use Twitter to talk about non-Kardashian and non-Bieber topics? Maybe we can widen the net in how we use Twitter? Groups on Twitter makes perfect sense to me and business-sponsored groups are a great idea. Recipe clubs who tweet back and forth while they cook dinner, fashion devotees who post outfits in pictures on Twitter, art lovers who chat about exhibits in 140 characters or less — the possibilities are endless, even if they have to be condensed into 140 characters or less.

So, readers and tweeters, would you join a Twitter-based group? Moreover, how could you market to your own custom-made group? Chirp off in the comments section below!


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