January 6, 2015
Mark Zuckerberg’s (Face)book club
by Nick Davies
Noted nerd and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his New Years resolution on Friday, namely to read about two books a month through the end of the year. He had previously put out a call via his Facebook page (natch), crowdsourcing ideas from his 31 million followers for what challenge he should undertake for 2015, noting previous endeavors such as learning Mandarin and wearing a tie every day (see right).
After apparently getting some 50,000 responses, Zuckerberg posted that he’s resolved to read a new book every other week, with, as he says, “emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.” And beyond reading these books himself, he’s turned the goal into something of a book club, inviting the public to join the discussion of the books he selects.
The first title on the list is The End of Power by Moisés Naím, which has already sold out on Amazon, leading Adrienne LaFrance at The Atlantic to describe Zuckerberg’s new club as “Oprahesque in its influence on book sales.” LaFrance further contends that while the push to get Facebook users reading books might look like something that would push people away from their computer screens, it actually speaks to a larger goal for the social networking site to become something more all-encompassing. Citing a Fast Company article by Austin Carr and an interview Zuckerberg gave to the New York Times, she explains:
Facebook isn’t just a social publishing platform or an online destination; Facebook wants to be part of everything you do online. It wants to be, as Carr put it, the “fabric of the mobile world,” which means the company’s growth depends on a slew of projects that have little to do with status updates. Facebook wants to build the infrastructure of our online lives, which, in a mobile world, turns out to be the infrastructure of our offline lives, too… With rivals like Amazon and Google, and with increasing movement toward e-commerce, Facebook’s potential interest in book publishing seems natural. Facebook’s “buy” button launched over the summer. Facebook and Amazon have teamed up in various ways for years, including integrations that let people see book recommendations based on what friends like.
Of course, Facebook hasn’t achieved social networking hegemony just yet. Naím spoke with CNN yesterday about his book being chosen, and while he says that he was “surprised” and “thrilled” by the news, he reveals that he found out about it on Twitter.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.