The rise of social networking sites and initiatives such as the One Book, One Twitter book club (#1b1t) make it much easier for readers to share reading experiences on a scale and in a fashion that would not previously have been possible. This paper examines people’s changing reading practices in the age of online social networking. In particular, it aims to describe and explain online conversations around a book called American Gods, the first book of the Twitter book club. Using the automated text analysis and social network discovery software called Netlytic, this study pinpoints a particular time in history that opens new conclusions about the spread of knowledge, education, culture, and ideology. An analysis of the more than 14,000 “tweets” about American Gods provides insight into this world-wide reading group phenomenon, which is now in its second year.
This article provides an historical account of the origins of Twitter’s first book club and thus maps a unique reading community. We illustrate through discourse and social network analysis that Twitter allows an author unique opportunities to participate in reading communities. The platform also gives readers the space to interact with the author and with each other in ways not previously possible. While sometimes difficult to observe and analyze, discourse rules and online performance is part of community maintenance. Sampling readers’ conversations and their responses to the book with new observational and evaluative technologies, we begin to see that the asymmetric structure of Twitter and its potential reach to millions of its users offer readers opportunities for engagement that are not available in f2f groups. However, we also see that there are cultural literacies and skills that readers need to participate fully in the reading group on Twitter.