Two Actually Great Book Websites

When it comes to digital marketing for book publishers, it’s still the Wild West: most efforts have all the liveliness and aesthetic beauty of desert scrub. But every now and then someone strikes gold. Here are two recent projects that blew my socks off.

Where Is Danny Torrance
Get out a pen and piece of paper. Free associate the words that come to mind when you hear “author website.” I’m guessing they aren’t terribly positive. Compounding this is the growing sentiment that “destination sites” have become antiquated as literary discovery moves to social media. (Your friend’s tweet about her favorite new novel is worth a hundred book sites.)

Which is to say: Scribner’s site for Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep is fucking unbelievable. It uses of-the-moment browser and mobile sync to enhance engagement. It creates an inviting, immersive narrative without giving away the book’s plot. It shows serious commitment and effort from its creators, which the user immediately intuits. It’s the kind of website that makes you forget you’re looking at a website. And like all good stories, you can go very, very deep.

Doctor Sleep

There’s a kneejerk dichotomy in the industry between “enhanced” or “multimedia” ebooks and the intimacy of the printed text. The Doctor Sleep site ignores these arguments. It’s not a book trailer and it doesn’t augment the text. Instead Domani Studios have focused on the world of the book using the latest digital toolkit. Throughly impressive work.

Where You Are
When was the last time you visited the website for an anthology? (Travel guides don’t count.) Visual Editions have created distinct mini-sites for their book on personal cartographies, giving each essay its own look and feel. Where Geoff Dyer’s piece merges autobiography with Google Maps, Tao Lin takes a more lo-fi approach with hand-drawn illustrations of space hamsters. That’s right, space hamsters. There are also pieces by Sheila Heti, Leanne Shapton, and Olafur Eliasson–it’s easy to get lost in this site. (Pun!)

Where You Are

The individual sections have the personalized feel of a zine, gathered under a simple umbrella of a homepage. And in a polite nod toward “social reading,” the site even tells you about other visitors through an anonymized IP address:

where you are social reading

Charming, no?

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