Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm Tweeting My Life Away

Tweeting is what you do when you are on the social network website Twitter. I'm not sure why it isn't twittering, I'd prefer twittering. It sure feels like I'm twittering (to speak rapidly and in a tremulous manner) when I'm furiously typing my hopefully pithy comments, responses and questions. Whether it's tweeting or twittering is irrelevant in the end because I'm sure in love with those little 140-character jolts I get each day.

What started as a once-a-day habit in the fall (after a tip from a fellow bookseller at the Mountains and Plains conference) has turned into a full-blown addiction. I can hardly imagine life as a book buyer without my Twitter lifeline. I check in when I arrive at the office, I leave a note telling my 197 followers what I'm doing in the middle of the day, and I read and write a few tweets at the end of the long work day. Simply put, it's my blanket, my teddy bear, my hot soup on a cold day.

The following pieces in homage to Twitter are all exactly 140 words to pay respect to Twitter's 140-character limit. My Twitter identity, like my blog, is Kashsbookcorner.

Love Letter to Twitter

Oh, Twitter where would I be without you? Each morning you bring me news from dozens near and far. One is stuck in snow, another has a dreadful meeting to go to, a third tells me Harper is laying off its stars. Sure, it takes 10 minutes to decipher some of the messages due to your minimalist language, but who else will provide me with obscure links about Norwegian websites declaring war or perfume companies' diminished profits?

Twitter, when I'm down you send me word of a wonderful novel from my publishing friends, when I get too high you give me balance with desperate tweets from frantic booksellers. And sometimes you have just a hint of mystery with your oblique comments starting with @this or @that. What's wonderful? What's incredible? Are you keeping secrets? Please tell me, my beautiful Twitter.

Twitter, Thanks for Doing my Job

Thanks for bailing me out on Wednesday when I didn't look through the publisher's catalog in advance. In the past, I would have just made guesses and let the rep spoon feed me titles. Instead, you saved the day. I tweeted, "Anybody buy Grove/Atlantic yet? What did you like? Anything that is a must have?" The responses came pouring in. Suddenly, I was an expert, a prepared buyer.

Oh yes, we are excited about Wetlands, a couple of booksellers wrote in. Another recommended The Earth Hums in B Flat, echoing my rep's sage advice, and there was even more enthusiasm for The Whole Five Feet. My rep claimed a few books were getting great buzz so I typed the titles into the twitter search to see who was tweeting about them. Wetlands had tons of buzz, Richard Flanagan none.

Twitter Understands Me

It's hard to feel lonely with Twitter. Some days, I used to feel that nobody really knew what I was going through -- the endless catalogs, the rep's hyperbole, and tedious photocopied add-ons. My colleagues saw the lunches, the free books and a comfortable day spent sitting in a chair, while they stood behind the register.

Now, I have a community that I can tweet with everyday. Some have paged their way through the catalogs, some are stuck selling publishers that I can't stand buying, and some are experimenting with Edelweiss, the electronic catalog. Many respond to my tweets with supportive words. I tweet, "It's hard to see so many reps when I don't want to buy." They respond with, "That's how it is with us. Too many books, tight budget." All day long we talk. I'm not alone anymore.


MacElf said...

Nicely written Arsen!

Katherine said...

I say twittering... conventions be damned!

John Rubin said...

Hey Arsen-

Very interesting! We are looking into adding a 'Twitter' widget into Edelweiss that will automatically search Twitter for individual titles. We'll see...

geeksinrome said...

Twitter: bringing haiku to cell phones; poetry to the tech world. amen.

Joni said...

And for those of us that are just learning the bookselling business, believe me, twitter is just that, a lifeline.

Where else could I get so many great suggestions of the must-have titles and a heads up as to which ones I really need to read and be able to hand-sell.

Following book people on Twitter has helped me seem a lot more prepared and credible to my new book buying public.

Thank you twitter and all you publishing and book business tweeters.

Lilas Conuts said...

Hello from Noumea
I might be looked upon as a dinausor but I still don't get the use of twitter but if it makes your life happier, go for it !