BookSwim Plays “Telephone” at BEA

In What's the Buzz by Karen Holt


By Karen Holt

If someone hands you a spiral-bound notebook during BEA and asks you to begin writing where they left off, consider it your chance to become a published author.

If you’re already a published author, that’s okay, too. The notebooks are part of an innovative (and surprisingly spontaneous) marketing campaign by BookSwim, the company that bills itself as the “Netflix of books.”

Here’s the idea: The notebooks are being given to five well-connected people in the industry with the mandate to write for as long as they want in a certain genre and then pass the book on to another person who will keep the book going. When BEA ends on Thursday, the notebooks will be collected and the contents published on BookSwim’s website, The chosen genres are romance, mystery, sci-fi and children’s. A fifth book will be all about BEA.

CEO/CFO Jeevan Padiyar sees the project as a non-pushy way to get BEA attendees talking about BookSwim. “There’s a glut of people saying, ‘Can I sell you this? Can I sell you this?’ We didn’t want to be that way.”

It’s also an example of what a truly “nimble” company looks like. Nick Ruffilo, BookSwim’s CIO and CTO, thought up the idea Monday evening. “It’s really a message to the publishing industry to say, ‘you can take small risks, don’t be afraid,’” Ruffilo said. In this case, small means $30 plus tax — the price of the five notebooks he bought at Staples Monday evening.

About the Author

Karen Holt

Karen Holt is a freelance writer, editor and book critic. She regularly contributes to O, The Oprah Magazine, and her writing appears in publications like Essence, The New York Post, Barnes & Noble Review and Publishing Perspectives.