Book Business EXTRA! Q&A -- Gather.com President and COO Carl Rosendorf talks about the site’s upcoming Book It to Bermuda literary cruise.
Gather.com, a popular user-driven social networking community on the Web, is celebrating its first anniversary next month with a literary-themed cruise setting sail to Bermuda. The Web site, in conjunction with several major publishers, will present bestselling authors and literary guests who vacationers will have the opportunity to mingle with for the five-night event on Royal Caribbean’s new Jewel of the Seas cruise ship. Gather.com President and COO Carl Rosendorf, a former executive with Barnes & Nobel.com, chats with Book Business EXTRA! about the Book It to Bermuda cruise.
Book Business EXTRA! -- What has Gather’s connection been with authors and publishers since the Web site was first launched last year?
Carl Rosendorf -- Gather established close ties with the publishing community almost from our initial launch. Last December, Houghton Mifflin began publishing a Weekly Word History on Gather each week from “The American Heritage Dictionary.” Houghton Mifflin also sponsored our first short fiction writing contest last winter. Beginning in April, Gather launched our Ask The Author program. Each month a best-selling author is invited for a Live Chat with Gather members. Participating authors have included Jonathan Safran Foer, Daniel Coyle and Terri Jentz. Authors who prefer not to participate in live chats on Gather have the option of being interviewed by the Gather editorial team. This month, we interviewed best-selling crime novelist James Ellroy about the release of the film “The Black Dahlia,” which is based on his 1987 bestseller.
EXTRA! -- How did the idea to host the Book it to Bermuda cruise come about? What are the goals of the cruise for Gather and its partners?
Rosendorf -- Gather is celebrating our first anniversary, and the Book It to Bermuda literary cruise is the perfect event to bring together writers and readers. Our goal is to provide an exciting and compelling event for Gather members as well as position Gather.com as the social media Web site for the informed and engaged audience.
EXTRA! -- How are book publishers participating in the “Book It to Bermuda” cruise? What benefits could the publishers see in being involved with the event and others like it in the future?
Gather.com has seven authors participating on the cruise. These authors are Terri Jenz, Elinor Lipman, Brad Thor, Lynette Kahlfani, Louise Shaffer, Edward Abramson, Ph.D. and Beryl Singleton Bissell. The publishers involved are Ballantine Books (Random House), Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, and Scribner/Simon & Schuster. We also have Simon & Schuster providing a workshop on book clubs and a cooking demonstration from the “Joy of Cooking’s” upcoming 75th anniversary edition. The greatest benefit to the authors and publishers is the extensive promotion to an informed and engaged audience of readers.
EXTRA! -- How is the cruise being promoted? Who is the target audience for this type of event?
Rosendorf -- The cruise promotion includes [a] Web promotional page -- www.gather.com/bermudacruise.jsp. Online ads -- over five million online ad impressions on Gather.com as well as on 20 different public radio Web sites [and by] e-mails -- over 250,000 e-mails sent by Gather.com and Public Radio Book Source [and] over 500,000 e-mails sent by the cruise company promoting the cruise to its customers.
EXTRA! -- What type of vactioner-interaction with the authors are scheduled for the cruise?
Rosendorf -- Each of the authors will be hosting a 75-minute session that includes a reading, discussion and question/answer period.