I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.
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A few months ago James Bonner was sitting at his favorite coffeehouse in Boerne, Texas, Electric Coffee, a place that has become the counter culture center of the small Texas Hill Country Town, “I spend a great deal of time there—which is to say that this coffeehouse is one of my favorite places.” Bonner shares about the coffeehouse. James was chatting with his friend Tricia Laffer, as they often do, when happening upon one another at their mutually favorite middle of the day break from life. Bonner had been talking about finding a new way to display books online. James has an online bookstore and blog, Communitea Books, the pair was talking about an idea Bonner had, “How cool it would be to create this interactive space where the visiting interweb consumer would be looking at, what appeared to be, a series of bookshelves, spine out, as if the patron were actually in a bookstore, and then by clicking on the spine of the book a customer would then be directed to a product page for that book.”
Though James still thinks the concept is great, he doesn’t know anything about web development and html coding, she shares, so, for him, it’s either a pipe dream or many, many years off in the future, “When I can hire someone to take on what seems like an enormous project” Tricia mentioned then how cool it would be if Instagram could be that feature, in some way, like, well, we all know how Instagram is formatted, so essentially each picture would be of a book cover and a link that would direct the customer to different product pages, and check outs, and what not. “I loved the idea, however the thought of sitting around all day uploading photographs and typing in information for thousands of books, again, inspired a degree of anxiety.” James shared.
As daunting as the task seemed to Bonner he started to do some research into the logistics of what that would look like, and on specifically for Instagram. “I was introduced, then, via the rabbit hole that internet searches create, to Snapppt…Snapppt is a program or app or whatever that links to Instagram, as directly as they are capable at present, but it’s, essentially an eCommerce platform that kind of sits on top of Instagram.” "So, OK...” Bonner thought, “…if I could find the ambition, again, to stare into the depth of the technological void, whilst spending my day floating behind artificial eyes with an analog brain something really cool could come from this!”
James did not do anything for a while, he focused, instead, on developing the best website that he could, “…at least by the standards of Google Search Console and Adsense.”
“One afternoon I was doing some basic social media marketing, and focusing on various platforms: Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and the like and I was browsing Pinterest, you know, I was Pinterested in the Pinteresting Pinterest’s, and it occurred to me that Pinterest is perfectly capable of providing the same marketing and eCommerce means as Snapppt, and Instagram.”
Bonner, of course, already has his own website, communiteabooks.com, and, thanks to Shopify, he has bookstore attached to his Facebook page. “But, What if I flooded the market with a new format of bookstore? In a way that no one had ever seen? The idea, when talking to Tricia, seemed cool, but all of a sudden it seemed to me ridiculous to not develop this idea.” Bookstores like Barnes&Noble, The Strand, Powell’s they all have their own Instagram and Pinterest pages, but are they using these social media platforms in a way that would turn them into visual online bookstores? No, and, in point of fact, as of now, and other than a pair of Bonners friends, Benjamin and Calixte, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Bookman and the Lady, whose focus is on Rare and Collectible books, nobody is.
So, James started developing it.
He first created an Instagram bookstore, Communitea_Books, using Snapppt as a sort of eCommerce layer, and a Pinterest bookstore, Communitea_Books, which links directly to his website. James, as he pointed out, is doing this on his own, attempting to create, and to innovate with a seemingly outdated product, and because it’s just him, and “…it seems as if I already have a never ending, and constantly expanding series of projects as it is.” For Bonner to “maintain some semblance of sanity, while taking on Instagram and Pinterest.” He is adding only fifteen books a day: fifteen to Instagram, and fifteen to Pinterest. “I love books, and I’ve always known that there are ways to keep them relevant, and not just for the consumer, but to maintain a market relevance as well, and I will continue to play with new ideas, and create new ways to keep books in people hands.”
“There is one little pet peeve though, that continues to eat at me, and that seems to be steadily growing in the back of my head: I have uploaded all my books to my website, however the eCommerce program was designed for individual products, and books have always been displayed collectively: by author. My platform doesn’t recognize the author as a separate section, it is part of the Title, and so I can’t have my online bookstore organized by author. As I upload books onto Instagram and Pinterest I wanted there to be some uniformity, some means of logical browsing—if you were looking for something specific, or you’re the type of person that create clusters in your brain in order to organize things, like I do, but the only way I could do that was to alphabetize my products by the first letter of the Title, which, you know, I have a difficult time dealing with.”
“I was sitting here this morning, doing some social media marketing for Communiteabooks.com and it finally dawned on me, in a way that it really had not yet: with Pinterest, and Instagram I am creating something that has never been done before, and by doing so I have multiple bookstores across multiple platforms all over the internet, they are all separate, and they are all one. I am so intrigued by that. Also, the idea of where this could potentially go—I don’t really do anything with the intention of realizing some foreseeable goal(s), and yes, of course, I have goal(s), and yet because I understand that everything is organic, and everything is constantly changing, the promise that I have no idea where else this could lead is awesome. And that I’m doing it with books: with these century old, conceptual, collections of knowledge and story. It just amazes me!”