BookTour: Watch Your Favourite Authors from Space!

While visiting Chris Anderson’s Long Tail site in a fog of early-morning, pre-breakfast procrastination, I stumbled upon Mr. Anderson’s latest venture: BookTour. It’s a neat idea. Let’s say I was a fanatical fan of Michael Chabon. I plug his name into BookTour and get a listings page back with books, tour dates and author info. I can then subscribe via RSS, email, etc. to get updates as new book tour locations are added.

Publishers have been doing this kind of thing on their sites for years, of course. But it highlights a fundamental challenge of publisher sites: Readers and fans don’t care about publishers and imprints. As a reader, I care about my authors and my authors’ books. Why jump between different publisher sites to find out about author tours when I can get it all in one place? A niche market? You bet. But for bookstores who are seeking to refashion themselves as local centres of literary culture, this is a great place to get the word out and draw new people in. Coverage is still pretty West Coast focused at the moment, but it’s worth watching to see how it develops.

Best of all, you can download a layer for Google Earth so you can track author tours across the country in a birds-eye view. Fortunately, you only see book jackets, not the authors themselves, so Michael Chabon can continue backyard sunbathing in peace.