Second Life – a place for reading

Second Lives by Tim GuestLast week it was Macmillan topping the charts on YouTube. This week it’s Random House getting into Second Life. It’s good to see traditional publishers engaging with social media in this way. According to this week’s Bookseller, Random House held the first of their monthly virtual book group meetings in Second Life on Tuesday, with discussion of various forthcoming events planned to interact with SL residents, including the launch party for Tim Guest’s book Second Lives: A Journey Through Virtual Worlds, which publishes next month.
I think this is an encouraging trend. Second Life is rapidly becoming a place where authors – and publishers – can interact with their readers, and reach a large, receptive market. Even digital avatars like reading, it seems. And social networks have always clustered around books, whether in real life book groups, Second Life or social networks on Facebook and MySpace. We’ve just never been able to tap into them so effectively before.
Second Life is a very book-friendly place. There are virtual bookstores, such as Coelacanth Books. Only last month we had the first Second Life Book Fair. Selina Greene, one of the organizers, owns ‘Book Island’. At the weekend, Jilly Kidd, another of the organizers, launched a literary magazine in-world called Anodos (initially called SLiterary General). SL magazines can reach a circulation of thousands quite quickly, and this one is another way to promote books, through its virtual pages.
Authors such as Chris Anderson have already appeared in avatar form for book signings. Ina Centaur has carved a niche designing avatars for authors, based on high-res photographs. Authors can also appear in SL in their real form in movies (another use for all those YouTube talking heads, perhaps?), including in the film studio at Anodos HQ. Podcasts allow for pre-recorded author readings, followed by live streaming for Q&A and discussion.
The Bookseller dismissed the SL Book Fair as ‘virtual insanity’ in its one-line write-up. To me, metaverse marketing seems an increasingly sane choice for publishers.
Second Life has a literate, adult population (average age 33). It enables authors to engage with readers in the way that MySpace enables bands to reach their fans. Is it too far-fetched to imagine that, while the social glue that holds MySpace together is music, parts of the SL metaverse might cluster around books?
See also:
second life book fair (no, really)
get a second life
In other blogs:
Books for Second Life on booktwo.org

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Jon Reed

Jon Reed is a content writer, author, screenwriter, lecturer, blogger - and the founder of Publishing Talk. He was previously a publisher for 10 years. Publishing Talk aims to help new and emerging authors write, publish and sell books. Advice is available via the blog and our masterclasses and membership programme. More...

One thought on “Second Life – a place for reading

  • 24th May 2007 at 11:47 pm
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    You really made me smile with this roundup of bookish things on Second Life. The Bookseller calling our fair virtual insanity is very funny. The great thing on Second Life is that it’s an extension of our life and work, but it really is also laugh out loud fun. The Australian Bookseller and Publisher magazine sees the value of it all for publishers and I imagine British publications will come round in the end.
    To confuse everyone I’ve changed the name of my new literary magazine to Anodos – and I think I’ll let you look that one up! It’s the pseudonym of Mary E Coleridge, the great great niece of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The standard of submissions has been very high and it will be available as an e-zine as well as a virtual magazine so you can see what you think even if you don’t visit our crazy world.
    The best event we had at our SLiterary venue this week – for me anyway – was a reading by Californian Secundo Dharma using live voice streaming. It was lovely to hear one of my poems in his Californian accent, and I was up well into the night to hear everyone else’s poems. How many other ways could writers from the US, UK and other countries meet up and share their writing?
    I’ve been having fun at Random House this week too. They’re building a lovely location called Elysian Isle and have the type of reading groups and debates you mentioned. I was there for a different reason though – doing the tango in their new Moonlight Club! Let the luddites sneer – we’re having all the fun!

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