I’m not usually one for social networking. I had to be dragged on to Facebook by Bill Ward, who got tired of Black Gate not having a Facebook page and finally just created one, and then made me an administrator.
Now we have nearly 400 fans, plenty of new subscribers, and I spend countless hours every week mesmerized by posts about sick dogs, guacamole recipes, and other critical updates from hundreds of “friends,” most of whom I’ve never even met. All when I should be working to return the last of the fiction submissions to Black Gate from last summer, of course. Thanks, Bill.
One thing about social networks is that they come in all shapes and sizes. One of the more interesting I stumbled upon last year was Shelfari, a social network for book lovers. They had a pretty neat widget to add a virtual book shelf showing off the titles you’ve read (or want to read) on your blog. It even works with Bebo, Blogger, Facebook, LiveJournal, TypePad, and Vox, and I don’t even know what most of those are.
Not interesting enough to join, of course. I’m distracted enough by Facebook (you suck, Bill) and Season One of Friday Night Lights on DVD. But I liked the book widget.
Then I discovered that Shelfari members can post reviews. They can even, for example, say kind things about Black Gate 14, things like:
Another great issue of fantasy fiction. Outstanding stories in this issue are: “The Bonestealer’s Mirror” by John C Hocking, “The Word Of Azrael” by David Surridge, “Destroyer” by James Enge, and “The Price Of Two Blades” by Pete Butler. Highly recommended.
OK, at the moment all the reviews are written by a single guy, Little Timmy B, who’s just become my favorite subscriber (replacing Bill Ward, who’s still in the dog house.) But suddenly I can see a future where hundreds of readers are using social networking to rave about how great Black Gate is, instead of reporting what Jon Stewart is up to. (And in this future, we’ll all have jet packs.)
Suddenly, I like Shelfari. And you should too.