Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Internet Community

I'm usually the last to hear about new technology and to take advantage of it.

Because I live in a remote area, I don't have high-speed Internet at home. I could get it through satellite, but right now I don't want another big monthly bill.

In a meeting where we were discussing some grassroots publicity methods for fiction, I learned about ShoutLife network and signed up to check it out. I found several of our authors on it. But now I get an influx of useless email messages from the site that I'm going to have to pull the plug on. I've gone on Facebook, too, to connect with my nieces and found an old college friend. But who really has time for all this cyber networking?

Today I stumbled upon the Paperback Swap. Now here is something I could find useful. Join for free. List at least 10 books you have that you are willing to give away, and you can start selecting books you want to have sent to you. Seems like a pretty good system for someone like me who will often buy a book and later find I have no desire to keep it or to give it to a friend. Now I can get books through here that I'm only curious about without a huge cost investment.

And I see they have a DVD swap. Tempting too. I'll have to check what I could get rid of.

So is a swap like this good or bad for authors and publishers? Someone still has to buy the books to begin with to keep feeding the machine, right? Would we sell more books if swapping among friends and strangers didn't happen, or would the budget tight readers just have to go without? That's always been a question around the office when from readers' letters we guess that the average Heartsong book is probably read by at least 3 different people.

Isn't sharing the blessing of Christian literature a part of the ministry side of publishing? I guess we shouldn't worry then about sales if the bills are being met and the readers are being blessed.


Susan Page Davis said...

Hey, Becky! Yeah, I saw you on ShoutLife. And I know what you mean about the email traffic. As to book swaps, etc., I figure it's a help, like a library. Even if ten people read the same book, that's people who might otherwise never have seen it. And if you build non-paying readers, someday they may turn into paying readers. Some of them might take the trouble to look up your website, too, or write to the author. They might buy one of your books they liked to give as a gift. You just never know.

Myra Johnson said...

I think one of the best parts about sharing books is that you might introduce a friend to an author she wouldn't have picked up otherwise. If she enjoys the book, she just might buy the author's next release.

BTW, my area ACFW chapter helps raise money for speakers by inviting members to donate used books. Members and visitors can then donate a dollar or two for a book they'd like to read.

And for the record, keeping up with FaceBook and Shoutlife makes me crazy, too!

cballan said...

I am a Paperback Swap junkie! I LOVE it. I can read books, place them on my list, send them out, receive books, read them, place them on my list, send them out. . . It's allowed me to branch out to authors and genres I may not have ordinarily tried because of the costs. I've received books in brand new condition. It's sometimes more difficult to receive newer books, but every so often, one pops up.

Karen said...

I'm with you and Susan on that email traffic from ShoutLife. I get it from people I haven't a clue about. As for swapping, I travel a great deal and often find a book swap table at resorts or on cruise ships. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to leave a CBA book behind and wonder what God will do with it. I've also picked up some books that have introduced me to authors I wouldn't have read otherwise. I've been known to go out and purchase more books they've written.

Blissful said...

You said - "Isn't sharing the blessing of Christian a part of the ministry side of publishing?"

This is the way I look at it when giving away books to readers. Many times I have thought of my books as tracts of a sort - a way to share a love message from God with others. But I know too that a worker is worthy of his wages. So there are times I really must leave that increase, both spiritually and monetarily, in God's hands!

Lynette Sowell said...

I like Shoutlife and got a LOT of messages when I first joined. But I don't have the time to jump on regularly.

I DO love the idea of a paperback swap. I love libraries. From this author's view, I think it's great for people to 'try out' a new author. Maybe they'll end up buying books. Like you said, either way, I believe we'll be blessed so I don't begrudge a few swapped copies. And I'm THRILLED to see that two of my anthologies are available in libraries. :)

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Because I'm not as active on Shoutlife anymore, the traffic has slowed a bit. Maybe it will taper off for you as well.

I haven't heard of the swap site, but it sounds interesting.

Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

LOL Emails from Shoutlife? I must not be popular, because I don't get them. Or maybe I hit a setting to avoid them? Hm, I think I'll tell myself that's why. :o)

As for sharing books...I think the biggest compliment is when a reader WANTS to share one of my books with friends or family. You generally don't share if you didn't like it, so it tickles me when I hear from a reader who has shared with a number of people. That's what it's all about--spreading the Word!

Mary Connealy said...

I've been on shoutlife for a while and it's really slowed down for me too, so it amounts to a business card of Shoutlife.

I think I could be more involved but I'm not.

And facebook has pretty much been reduced for me to playing Scrabble with Myra and Tina Russo. So that doesn't take much time...especially since Myra spells like a... words fail me...which might be why she beats me all the time.

So Becky if you want to keep Shoutlife as a business card do it. It'll taper off.

Unless I'm a loser that no one wants to talk to...

In which case you might keep busy.

Mary Connealy said...

I went and checked, Becky. We are now friends on shoutlife.

You know I used to get an email every time someone would put in a friend request or an email or a comment but I don't anymore. There were several piled up.
I wonder if there's a way you could shut the email notifications off. Maybe I did that.

Becky said...

Thanks, Lauralee, for making me aware of a typo. :-) That's what I get for posting late in my day.

Pam Hillman said...

Kim said: I think the biggest compliment is when a reader WANTS to share one of my books with friends or family

Kim, I love your take on this. And yes, I remember picking out books to share with my mother-in-law and putting something to the side that I felt like she wouldn't enjoy...or putting one on TOP so I could tell her to read it FIRST! lol

Jess said...

I've been a member of for a couple of years now. It's great. I enjoy finding books that are out of print. Last month I finally got my hands on a book my agent ghostwrote for Dale Evans. Isn't that hilarious?

Like I really need that book! :)

Nora St. Laurent said...

I have been paper back swapping for about 1 1/2 years now. When I give one of my books away I put book marks from other authors that I really enjoy so the other person that gets my book can check it out. I post book reviews for the books that I really love on that site.

Finances are getting very tight with gasoline being so expensive. I work at a christian book store and can't aford to read as much as I would like. Paperbackswap has allowed me to read more and tell my customers what I think is really good because I have read it.
i run three book clubs at my store. I have been able to read many books to get the best ones for book club. I don't always get a chance to go to the library to read books. This way I can swap with a friend and tell them about all the great authors I have read. I'm spreading the word.
It's GREAT STUFF. The community of people are very special. I have really benefited, so have the people I met. I've been able to bless others because of paperback swap.