But Twitter is something different – one of its definitions is a “micro-blog” and I too found it hard to think what possible purpose this could serve. In our society today we suffer, I believe, from an overload of communication. We’re bombarded with newsfeeds, blogs, texts, etc. My daughter practically lives on Facebook and constantly updates her status to include the most trivial and mundane of all details, just as her friends do. What’s the point? And it seemed to me that Twitter with its 140 character limit was even worse. I decided early on that the name for people using Twitter just had to be Twits. Not very original of course but why else would people “tweet” all day. Who cares what you’re doing every minute of the day?
However this week I’ve seen how Twitter has changed one person’s life completely, and presumably this huge mass-communication effect will apply to many people and situations, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. Jonathan Ross, who has to my knowledge two weekly TV shows and a Radio show, and probably other stuff of which I’m not aware, is apparently a prolific tweeter. Or Twit. He has, at the time of writing this, 270,379 followers – and for those who know nothing about this, that means people who read his tweets, receive updates etc and are able to follow his every utterance. That’s over a quarter of a million people!! For someone like Ross, this has to be very exciting.
But what Ross has done this week is to change someone’s life through Twitter. He decided apparently on the spur of the moment (although it has been get phentermine prescription online said on various blogs and newsreports that in fact this was an orchestrated event between him and his sister-in-law Amanda Ross, who runs Cactus TV, which does the Richard and Judy Show, which has just been axed … follow the drift?) to launch a Twitter book club. Every week he would nominate a new book at the weekend. People would read it during the week. Then on the following Sunday every member of the bookclub could post their review. On Twitter. 140 characters. Sounds like haiku-review to me!
So many of his followers then started to follow his newly formed book club Twitter group (#wossybookclub) and Ross announced the first selection – Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson. Given the 140 character limit on each tweet, this was perhaps not a good title to choose so it’s now been abbreviated to MWSAG or simply Goats. The result is that every Waterstones, Borders, independent bookshop and online book retailer in the country including Amazon have sold out of the book. Picador are apparently reprinting frantically and then reprinting again (although once we get to next week’s choice will people still want Goats?). An e-book was launched in a big hurry. All the audio books have been snapped up too. Everyone’s clamouring for Goats and Jon Ronson must be so very happy. What publicity! What a triumph for him! The book’s already been made into a film with George Clooney (again, some aspersions have been cast on Ross’s choice given his links with the film industry via his TV programme Film 2009) and this mass-hype can only boost the film too. Free advertising and all from a little 140 character tweet!
Of course there’s been much griping and grousing about the fact that someone like Jonathan Ross has such influence over the book-buying public. Many have bitched about him and his lack of literary credentials. I dared to question this attitude in my response to a blog about it on the Bookseller, when I said that surely reading was not the prerogative of an educated, literary elite and anything that encouraged people to read more books was a good thing. I was told emphatically by another blogger that I was wrong, and that books should inform and enlighten rather than entertain. Oh dear. That’s me getting it all wrong again then.
All I can say therefore on the topic is – please someone bring Stonewylde to Jonathan Ross’s attention! I’m not a literary snob. I’ll take the free and massive publicity with gratitude. Given that he has a farm in Dorset and a wife who’s interested in paganism, he’d love Stonewylde. Blimey – I’d even arrange a walk-on part for him when the Stonewylde films are made one day! How could Wossy resist a sweetener like that?