Oprah, Skype and the Book Club

Oprah, Skype and the Book ClubI am always looking for interesting ways to market something, so when I got the email (pictured left) from Skype, I had to check it out.

After all it seemed to be about Oprah and her Book Club using Skype to conduct a chapter by chapter reading of bestselling author Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth: Awaking Your Life's Purpose.

It seemed, from this email, that Skype was hosting this virtual book tour/club. Every Monday for 10 weeks, starting yesterday (Monday, March 3rd), they explained, Oprah and Eckhart would be reviewing a chapter and answering questions.

I thought the goal was to take questions from readers around the world through a live Skype video call. I figured this meant you got to see Oprah and Eckhart live, and though I didn't see the first installment, yesterday, I gathered you might also get your own mug up there.

George Jetson Video PhoneAfter all, one of the things I use Skype for is to be like The Jetson's and talk with my clients or my mom over the computer using our built-in cameras to see one another. In my mind, I began to try to figure out how they would do that with 500,000 people.

As I mentioned, I missed the premiere of this happening, last night, so I went to Oprah's site to find out more.

Of course, Oprah's site tells you that you must join the site and the book club, which I promptly did, to investigate.

So, why am I mentioning it here? It's not because I am a fan of Tolle, I have never read his stuff (so I have no opinion either way about that, sorry) and didn't previously have interest in Oprah's book club (though I appreciate how she encourages her audience to read!). The reason I wanted to write this post was because I was intrigued by their process and what I found out – and I thought you might be, as well:

  1. This seemed to be an expanded method of doing a book tour using the Internet (though book tours have been done through webinars and maybe even using video, I have not heard of people using Skype to market in this way. So, I had to check it out – I'm still confused where Skype comes in, more on that below.
  2. I was surprised to see that Penguin (the publisher) is not mentioned on either Skype or Oprah's site – and depending on where you look, it seems to be more about Oprah then Tolle (though I gather neither publisher or author are complaining). And according to The Huffington Post “About 3.5 million copies of Eckhart Tolle's spiritual self-help guide have been shipped since Winfrey, host of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” announced her selection four weeks ago.”
  3. I was curious about the joint venture between Harpo and Skype and how it is being handled. My first impression was that Skype dropped the promotional ball by not announcing this sooner, but then again, I don't read every promotional email that comes in – so maybe they wrote about it earlier. Or, maybe Harpo's agreement was to not mention it to the Skypers until they knew the Oprah crowd had time to register? I didn't know why they would do that, but it got me wondering what the terms were and how Oprah's site was handling the promotion
  4. Oprah.com doesn't mention Skype at all, or at least I couldn't find them mentioned (if you find it, let me know). One thought is they are just sponsoring and not actually providing access to the event. In fact, after you sign up you are told you have to download something from a company called Move Network.
  5. What is Move Networks about and why is their image so blurry? OK to be fair, it was only the first 1 min and 43 seconds that the image on their own site was extremely blurry, oh and the reason I kept watching it was because during part of that time my mouse froze. (I have a year old MacBook Pro, so it can't be that my system is that outdated already, can it?) After that the picture was AMAZINGLY clear and I did continue to watch the rest of their 3 min and 26 sec video of beautiful areal views of snow covered mountain tops – it really was crystal clear.
  6. What does Limelight Networks have to do with this promotion and should I already know more about them?
  7. And, of course, Oprah's people are making the podcasts (taped versions of the ‘show') available on their own site and on iTunes.

So, no, this is not a post about Eckhart's book and what I think about it. So, please understand that fact. It is an evaluation of a new way of getting information out there and how Harpo Production is doing that (and with whom they are coordinating the efforts.)

For the time being, I can't say whether this is a valid new method of marketing, because I am still evaluating it, but I thought it was an interesting exercise on how the pieces came together and how everyone was benefiting from this campaign.

What are your thoughts?

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