Authors Guild’s Booktalk Nation Goes Google-y and Bi-Coastal

Booktalk Nation hosts its first NY-LA video hangout with YA Authors Melissa de la Cruz, Kami Garcia, Michael Johnston, and Margaret Stohl. Next week: NYT Bestseller Wally Lamb Previews We Are Water.

“We’re embracing the Google in support of indie bookstores,” says Authors Guild Executive Director Paul Aiken.

This evening, Booktalk Nation (booktalknation.com) is hosting its most ambitious hangout yet: four YA authors – from three different locations – will talk with readers around the world. The hangout is free. Readers can order personally inscribed books through Booktalk Nation.  LA’s Skylight Books and NY’s Posman Books will fulfill orders nationwide.

Booktalk Nation, developed and underwritten by the Authors Guild, is a virtual book tour and e-commerce platform available for free to readers, brick-and-mortar booksellers, authors, and publishers.  Through the site, readers order personalized books, which authors sign in the days after their events at hosting bookstores.

When it launched last November, all events were by nationwide conference call.

“It was Joe Hill and Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, NH, that pushed for a live, video-streamed event,” said Paul Aiken, the guild’s executive director. “We’d been trying, but video was too glitchy or expensive before Google Hangouts. The success of Joe’s event – we helped Water Street sell hundreds of NOS4A2 – and Sylvia Day’s event soon after, which drew more than 1,100 viewers worldwide, convinced us we were on to something. So, we’re embracing the Google.”

Everyone – authors, readers, interviewers – participates in Booktalk Nation events from their homes or wherever they happen to be. BTN has a rich affiliate rewards program, available exclusively to brick-and-mortar booksellers, that pays roughly half of proceeds to the referring bookstore.

“The communities of avid readers who favor indie bookstores are vital to authors,” said Aiken. “We’re working to stitch together and strengthen those communities, and technology can certainly work in their favor. We’re especially proud to have 85 bookstores in the family to date. Our virtual doors are wide open for more.”

Past BTN events have featured Lois Lowry, Richard Russo, Edwidge Danticat, Katherine Paterson, Ian Frazier (with Roy Blount Jr.), Judy Blume, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Jeffrey Eugenides.

Booktalk Nation expects to soon announce its first branded channel. BTN channels are available to reputable societies, magazines, alumni associations, and activist organizations seeking to strengthen their ties to their members, subscribers, or graduates.

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