I’ve been watching Shelfari since its launch about a year ago. It’s a free site for book lovers to share their favorite books with one another. It’s been going along pretty slowly, hard to be heard in the maelstrom of social networking sites that have been launched in the past twelve months – harder still, I would imagine to take book lovers who have diffuse issue interests and may already have their favorite sites/blogs, etc. bookmarked online.
Then, last week, I read a blog post on their site that I thought was enormously encouraging for the possibility of shifting power between publishers and readers — at last!!
You can read the post here. Here’s the gist: Lance Fensterman is the director of the biggest book buying convention in the country called Book Expo America (BEA). Every year, thousands of buyers for book stores comes to this event to see the wares of publishers and decide what books to order for the upcoming year.
Lance started his own group on Shelfari called BEA Lit Insiders. Lance’s group allows anyone on Shelfari to recommend authors to present at a panel at BEA. Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Well, let’s think about the implications. For the first time, readers, and perhaps other book insiders, can be part of an open process of promoting their favorite authors for this huge, national event. Is it possible that individual publishers might talk directly to readers someday too? Now, I really am getting utopian!