This article here at Business Week shows the recent success Stephenie Meyer has seen with building a community around her vampire saga Twilight. With an estimated 1.3 copies of the latest book sold over the weekend, it’s hard not to take a look at the online community that the author has built for her books. The publishing industry, who has long suffered with adapting to the Web 2.0 world should look at the model Meyer built.
When the site provided by Little Brown was not sufficient, Meyer took to creating her own light hearted website at StephenieMeyer.com, where she would let readers know what was going on with the writing of the novels and about her family. She also took time to interact with her fans, answering questions about the books and letting them know about what was going on in her family. From there, it progressed to MySpace, online discussion groups and Amazon. Now it’s progressed to fan supported communities like Twilight Lexicon and Twilight Moms. Finding a way to connect with your customers, or your fan base, can propel your business into new areas.
With the publishing industry slowing, 247,777 books published in 2002 to 411,422 books published in 2007, with $41 billion in revenue that hasn’t grown significantly, they should find a way to bottle this success and spread it to other authors. Some are already taking the step, with sites popping up around Freakonomics, The Four Hour Work Week, and The Last Lecture. Will the publishing industry react and build up the community Meyer and others are beginning to build?