I know that I spend a lot of time griping and moaning about the onslaught of technology in the world of books, but I have discovered an amazing marriage of technology and the written word since moving to New York that I have got to share with you.
I’m a big fan of Twitter and Tumblr. This is not news. Apparently, the book community is also a big fan of Twitter and Tumblr.
In fact, the book community is such a big fan of online communities that in the last two months, I have been able to order books from two of my favorite bookstores right through Twitter!
It’s like someone in customer service heard me cry out about how much I hate the phone! And leaving my house when it’s raining! Or it’s too hot! Or I’m tired…
Wait, I’m seeing a trend develop here.
Anyways, I just tweeted at the bookstores in question and asked for them to order or pull something for me, and they did! I got an email a week later from the ladies at Word Brooklyn saying my book was waiting for me, and I had a friend pick it up for me. And I stopped into Bergen Street Comics two days later and picked up the comics I wanted without biting my nails at the thought of the issues selling out before I could get there. Thanks to my active participation in the online community, these local companies weren’t just faceless brand twitter handles. They were people I knew and interacted with online regularly who had no problem seeing my tweets and fulfilling my requests.
This does not mean everyone who reads this blog should log in to Twitter and demand their local stores order things for them. Online communities are all about building relationships. Respect your local stores and their online people, and they will love you for it. Make demands, refuse to understand when they can’t fulfill a request (remember local stores are often small in size and staff – they can’t accomodate all requests all the time), or get an attitude with them? You will not make friends at all.
Have you looked around for your local bookshops on Twitter? I follow a number of them myself. Not just bookstores that are in New York City, like Word and Bergen Street Comics, but also places like Powells, River Run Bookstore, Meltdown Comics and Tattered Cover.
I also follow a bunch of lovely people who work for various bookstores. In fact, it was a wonderful book blogger from Word Brooklyn who got me onto Tumblr in the first place because I had to know about the books she was recommending. Her blog, Bookavore, is still a go-to for me when I want to find something unique to read. And it led me to some books I’m still recommending to other people a year later like Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street and A Novel Bookstore. I may have just spent fifteen minutes scrolling through it to find the exact title of Street Gang when I could have just searched it. Scrolling through that blog is that much fun.
Thanks to Twitter and technology, I’ve had the opportunity to be completely immersed in the written word every time I open my laptop. I read about books. I write about books. And sometimes I just play around with words for the fun of it. This past week I even dug into my brain for some Latin for wordplay fun, and while it hurt the recesses of my memory a little bit to yank that knowledge foreword, it felt good to be melding really old knowledge – literally and figuratively – with new forms of communications like Twitter and Tumblr.
Tech companies seem to understand this too. During BookExpo last week, I went to see a reading at Housing Works Books in the city that was hosted by Tumblr and saw readings by social media elite like Edan Lepucki, Alexander Chee, and Baratunde Thurston. I had found out about the reading from Twitter, seen it shared on Tumblr, was aware of one of the authors because of a podcast I listened to, and managed to walk in the door without feeling a gripping fear of melding my online life with my offline life.
Okay, yes, I was kind of that girl who stood in the corner, drank her drink and didn’t talk to too many people, but I was there. I think that should count for something.
Another fun thing in literary social media? LitCrawl. Look it up. Trust me. So much fun.
Image via Word Brooklyn‘s Official Flickr used with their permission