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.
Bethanne Patrick on FridayReads
Jennifer Weiner Post about FridayReads