Monday, August 21, 2006

Cybersex, Secondlife and Myspace

In the office this week we got on a discussion about how books are represented on social sites like myspace and game sites like secondlife. I hate games but I have been interested in the secondlife phonom where you can literally create a new you and there exists a trading network that includes everything from real estate to clothes. So I signed up for secondlife to try to see how books were represented in the game.

Anyone for CyberSex? Predictably, sex plays some part in the content available. Derivations of the For Dummies series include CyberSex for Dummies and Escorting for Dummies. I have no idea whether these are official Wiley titles - what are the chances? A search on bookstores and books found a few store locations and navigating to them was relatively easy. Content including the above was not significant in choice. Some other titles covered topics specific to creating an identify within the game and some additional sex titles. One store was selling e-books which were on 'display' enabling the ability to page turn and review the content. In all the book stores were underwhelming but I expect the customers were engaged elsewhere in the game and within this context books aren't particularly interesting. I suspect some enterprising person will think up a unique application connected to the game.

On Myspace there are many bookstores represented with profiles with their ranking determined by the number of friends. Atomic books is typical of the stores that have profiles. It is difficult to say how many there are but clearly this is a viable method of advertising/PR to a very targeted group of consumers to whom it can be hard to introduce to books. Leftbank books located in Seattle is also similarly edgy; they describe themselves as 'anarchist' booksellers. Some stores look like they do more to promote retail than others.

Searching 'groups' for 'books' and 'mystery books' results in a few groups dedicated to reading but the result set is also 'polluted' with results that clearly have little if anything to do with books. There are over 5000 profiles returned for 'books' but only eleven for 'mystery books'. Lastly, I searched for library and I was unexpectedly surprised. Librarians have seen the virtues of setting up a myspace profile for their libraries and they use it to engage the young adult community. This is exciting because it shows that some libraries are willing to experiment and engage a target audience on their terms. Hannepin County Library in MN is representative of the libraries on myspace. Central Falls Public library (a Hannepin friend) is also a great site. Myspace definitely represents an opportunity to engage. Here is their note for the summer reading program:

Summer Reading Program Current mood: excited.
Our Summer Reading Program has officially begun! So if you're a kid (or the parent of a kid) between 6 and 12 years old stop by and sign up to read and win prizes! To kick off our program, Katie Latimer (check out will be here Wednesday, June 28th at 2p.m. to tell stories. She's a native Rhode Islander who's been telling stories since she was thirteen. In 1998 she won the National Youth Storytelling Olympics and has been captivating audiences throughout New England every since!

Hannepin allows myspace creators to add the a script to their web pages that provides a search box on their web page:
Need to find a book or other library materials but are busy on your MySpace page and don't want to leave? Don't worry you can now add the Hennepin County Library catalog search box right to your MySpace. It's fun, it's easy and you can have the convenience of the library on your own MySpace page. Instructions for adding the library search box:

As I mentioned on another post it will be interesting to see if the influence of Harpercollins will result in any changes on the myspace site that effects more support for books and reading. The viral nature of some of the video advertising Harpercollins is experiementing with is perfect for the myspace environment and I can't believe they are not looking at how to take advantage.

Laslty, to bring this full circle, a number of enterprising individuals have established a Secondlife library. It is still a work in progress but it will be interesting to see how this evolves. Will content vendors make their content available via database license to the Secondlife Library?

No comments: