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Friday Reads: Readers Tweet Their Favorite Books

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If it's Friday, The Book Maven wants to know what you're reading. Publishing guru Bethanne Patrick (@thebookmaven) has developed Friday Reads into a Twitter sensation with the hashtag #FridayReads, and thousands of people check in each week to share the books currently occupying their shelves. I asked her about the program's growing popularity:

What's the most popular book listed on Friday Reads so far?

BookMaven: That's a great question. Right now, although we archive, there is no database. We do try to compile lists of each week's Top Ten books, and I can tell you that the most interesting thing is that there are several books that seem to get a lift from Twitter, e.g. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, Tinkers by Paul Harding. These are big, award-winning books -- but I see people recommending to each other within Friday Reads, then coming back and saying "So-and-so told me to read Book X and I am and I love it." Other perennial faves: The Stieg Larsson books, Guernsey Literary, and The Elegance of Hedgehog.

Nice, it's the Twitter bump. Friday Reads is pushing 2,000 retweets a week, so the hashag is catching on. What's in the grab bag giveaway this week?

BookMaven: For a long time the grab-bag giveaway was whatever hardcovers I had on my shelf! Fortunately, I get fantastic review copies, so when I'm finished with them, they're still worthy of many, many more reads.

However, now that the meme is catching on, publishers are reaching out to me and offering wonderful titles for giveaways. I'm packaging several of these at a time as "Bookapalooza" giveaways that are available when we hit 1K and over. This is a big win: Readers get brand-new, front-list books, and publishers get great promotion, too. As Friday Reads grows, I'll look into new ways of promoting specific titles up for giveaway, too.

I would like to win a bag of books. Just putting that out there. As an expert in the publishing business, have any of the Friday Reads trends surprised you?

BookMaven: From my perspective as a publishing industry insider and journalist, I've been delighted to see one of my pet causes rise to the top on Friday Reads, meaning the back list. I have long believed that one of the best ways to "save publishing" is for everyone to remember how many fantastic books are not on this week's or month's or even year's "Best of" lists. On Friday Reads, tweeps talk about classics, forgotten gems, sleeper books, titles that have personal or community meaning, books their kids are loving...to me this is magic.

Those reminders have been one of my favorite parts of following Friday Reads. What has the response been like from Twitter's author and bookseller community, not to mention the readers?

BookMaven: The bookseller and author communities have been so supportive of Friday Reads -- and has the publishing house community! This hashtag is all about reading not about e-books versus paper books or genre versus literary fiction. It's inclusive. It's meant to bring author and bookseller and publisher and reader together around the thing we all have in common. READING. While Friday Reads is quite simple in execution, it's actually a little more high concept, in that sense, than everyone realizes. I'm pushing a not-very-hidden agenda: The act of reading is more important than the thing that is read.

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