#FridayReads beginnings and endings…

There has been much written about the origins of FridayReads and how it became so popular. More recently there has been a great deal about the fact that Bethanne Patrick and her crew have been making a pretty penny out of the publishers. So here’s a bit of analysis, and information, for you from my perspective. Thus far I’ve kept quiet as I consider the implications of it all but I think it’s time to put my head above the parapet, not least because there is a chunk of the story missing.

Way back, it seems, in the last quarter of 2010 I read a book called Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath it’s all about how we get drawn to ideas and how they stay with us. It really is an excellent read. About the same time I was also looking into getting some new knowledge and skills under my belt, autodidact that I am, and so the idea of learning about Social Media and particularly @Twitter came about.

Mix in a love of books and we’re nearly there.

Digging around in Twitter eventually turned up this idea of weekly sharing of what people are reading, called #FridayReads – conceived by Bethanne Patrick when she was with Book Studio, now defunct I believe. Ping! The lightbulb moment arrived when I discovered that this brilliant idea called FridayReads was dragging along with between 300 and 500 participants weekly. This was in about September/October 2010.

So, as a personal experiment initially, I decided to follow the rules set out by the estimable Heath brothers in their book. My aim was to see if I could get #FridayReads to grow.

And you know what, I was right and the techniques of engagement and publicising of the idea really worked. FridayReads started to grow, and grow. I didn’t stay on my own for long though as certain other great people joined in with me to form a core: @erinfaye, @adamslisa, @littlefluffycat and @shelfmagazine. Naturally this caught Bethanne’s attention as the buzz around FridayReads began to increase. It is undeniably a brilliant idea and perfect for the Social Media (though more Twitter and Facebook than the oddness that is Tumblr).

The participation in FridayReads on Twitter has lately stuck at around 5000-6000 weekly (which is great) though the Facebook page has a little under 10,000 ‘likes’. It’s rather a shame that Bethanne went in to Book Riot as it is a shadow of the potential that FridayReads had and nowhere near as good an idea, ah well, she didn’t ask what I thought and they do seem to be rather well funded.

But where next. Well, data. I quickly saw that there was potential for a Best Read List, a regular listing of the top books mentioned by the participants. To this end I devised some algorithms and wrote some computer programs to analyse the data from the Twitter #FridayReads stream. @erinfaye maintained the list on her blog of FridayReads (initially on blogspot), later this moved to the fridayreads.com website and was still maintained by @erinfaye and myself.

My third child was born in March and as a result I was somewhat distracted from the goings on in FridayReads and apparently this was also around when the monetization started.  I only became aware of the fact that money was being made much later on. This would be totally fine had there been an air of openness around the subject and a clear willingness to share. As it was I had invested a considerable amount of time, ingenuity and some of my own earnings in producing the Best Read Lists and resented the move to own/take over the work I had done.

Negotiations were entered into but I decided that as the relationship had been soured through a loss of trust that I would no longer publish the Best Read Lists on fridayreads.com, they now live at BestReadList.com which is a new site I run with @erinfaye. The Best Read strand was the single most popular item on the FridayReads website so it would be a shame to flush it all away.

So there we are. FridayReads is still a great idea but rather marred  of late by the controversy. I still take part as I believe that the sharing of the knowledge of what we are reading is vital. I also love watching and mapping trends and where better than Twitter.

Other sites:

Bethanne Patrick on FridayReads

Jennifer Weiner Post about FridayReads



Stoke Newington Literary Festival 2011

The dates for the local literary festival in Stoke Newington have been announced. Clear your diaries for 3rd to 5th June 2011 and look forward to some great events including an enhanced children’s strand.

I’ll be doing my best to get down there and join in the buzz.

Follow on Twitter: @StokeyLitFest

Event Homepage: Stoke Newington Literary Festival

Facebook: StokeyLitFest


Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

When I was a teenager there was a brilliant television adaptation of John Wyndham’s post-apocalyptic novel, Day of the Triffids. Thanks to the wonders of the Web and the BBC I was able to sit down and watch the 1981 series in one afternoon. It stars John Duttine as Bill Masen who is the main protagonist and narrator of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The novel was written in 1951, only a few years after the end of the Second World War and before the end of the period of austerity imposed during the war. In this context some of the themes of the novel become clearer: The idea of the destruction of humanity, by weapons or a terrible accident; Dealing with shortages of food and other related themes.

The production values don’t match up to the amount spent on today’s drama but the story telling is very faithful to the original story. Quite a relief when you see how badly some movies get chopped about in the name of entertainment. Overall it is rather a bleak story and the fact that it is possible to have produced it without fabricating a happy ending is a good thing.

I thoroughly recommend the book and if you feel inspired then watch the drama unfold 1981 style.

Day of the Triffids – SeeSaw

Buy from Amazon UK

Buy from Amazon.com

FridayReads bullet points

Why should I take part?
We take reading and literacy for granted. But the reason we can do so is that over the past two centuries or more there have been some hard fought campaigns to make reading an essential part of our education. [1] [2] The ability to read allows the uneducated to teach themselves, it allows us to learn about and appreciate other cultures and ways of life. We can visit alternate realities and discover some of the secrets of life. Emancipation is the key word, this is why reading needs to be taught and encouraged.

Taking part in FridayReads is, in part, an acknowledgement of the fact that reading is such an important part of life and has been recognised as such for some considerable time. However, it is not only essential but it is often fun and that is a huge part of FridayReads too.

FridayReads LogoWhere does it happen?
You can find FridayReads on Twitter, just got to Twitter search and search for #FridayReads. You will need a Twitter account to join in. If you don’t want or have a Twitter account but are on Facebook you can go the the FridayReads Page and join in there.

What’s my incentive?
You need an incentive?  Well, if you really need it then you should know that taking part in FridayReads makes you eligible for some amazing, book related, prizes and giveaways. This can include signed copies of books and it has been known for people to win chocolate, which is often vital when reading Romance novels.

What counts?
Anything that you read but most people submit the books they are reading. Your children’s bedtime stories count too and it is great to see children’s titles appearing on the list. There are always classics on the list and the range of titles and genres is enormous. Magazines, manuscripts, ebooks. In fact anything that is written down. If you’re listening then yo can use the #FridayListens tag on Twitter instead. The Book at Bedtime slot on BBC Radio4  would count for this for example.

You can keep up to date with #FridayReads on Twitter or Facebook by asking us questions and generally joining in the fun. Look forward to seeing you there and maybe congratulating you in winning a prize!

Two facts for the price of one:
Dick Whittington was a real person, he lived from 1354-1423 and was a rich merchant and politician.

In his will Whittington set aside money for the creation of a library.  Another fine example of seeing the value of the collected knowledge that is accessible through reading. I only mention this because at the time of writing there is huge pressure to close or reduce funding to libraries in both the UK and US.

The Whittington Charity still exists today. Nearly 600 years after his death.

OK, it was three facts.

FridayReads was created by Bethanne Patrick @thebookmaven