On the heels of a nasty dispute with Amazon.com over the sales of e-books, Hachette is cultivating the growth of a new online bookseller: Twitter. Over the course of the month, the publisher will use Twitter’s new “buy” button to sell a limited number of books by musician Amanda Palmer, astronaut Chris Hadfield, and writers at the Onion. The titles sold through Twitter will come packaged with limited-edition souvenirs, such as a signed manuscript page from Palmer’s book.
Hachette is the first book publisher to begin using Twitter as a retail platform, and the limited effort reflects a wider desire to turn social networks into shopping sites. Both Facebook and Twitter are experimenting with buttons that allow users to make purchases directly from their sites, although neither company was able to ramp up for a full-scale launch in time for the holiday season. Twitter’s investors in particular have been anxious for the company to create new ways to make money. The makers of books, music, and other products with highly developed fan bases are dying for social media buy buttons to reach the mainstream.