Apparently I'm not the only one thinking about ways to leverage the online world for book promotion. The following observations come from a writer who noticed an interesting fact here. My guest wishes to remain anonymous, but has agreed to let me share what I thought were some interesting projections on the look-and-feel of publishing in the future:
The absolute favorite pastime of the 400 million or so Facebook users is: gaming. Not fan pages. Zynga, creators of FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and other highly popular and profitable Facebook games just received between $100-200 million from Google -- an investment designated to help Google develop their own games.
Does this affect publishing and book promotion? It could. If gaming is already supplanting Fan pages as an activity of choice for Facebookers, perhaps publishers and book promoters of all stripes -- even authors -- will need to create online games that lead their readers to the books. For novels of action, suspense, sci-fi, or horror, this is easy enough to imagine; for delicate character studies and finely-observed literary explorations, it could take considerably more imagination. And yet this may be the new way to go. For example:
- Play "The Passage." Fight the bio-vampire monsters of Justin Cronin's blockbuster debut by night, grow your community by day. Win "power batteries" for night lights. Collect points to buy better weaponry.
- Enter "Wolf Hall." Become a great historic figure, such as Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, or Thomas More as the conflicts between church and state play out in 16th-century England, a la Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize winner.
- Navigate through the "Flying Insect Kingdom." Various game paths could take you to Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees" or "Stieg Larsson's "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" or even William Golding's "The Lord of the Flies." Add a John Updike novel to represent the "WASP" element if the game creators want to show how smarty-pants literary they can be.