I installed the Alex King mobile plugin at Sybil’s blog (The Good, The Bad, The Unread) a week ago because I was tired of trying to access it from my smart phone and having to wait five years for the home page to load. According to Business Week, 80 million smart phones were shipped worldwide in 2006. About 5% of the cell phone subscribers currently own a smartphone and this is likely to increase to 10% in the next few years according to analysts. Essentially, there is a good portion of the internet browsing market who couldn’t visit Sybil’s blog because of the length of time it took to load her home page.
Ironically, Sybil blogged about her frustration with MySpace last week and authors’ seeming devotion to it. It seemed to me that authors spent way too much time on MySpace and not enough time optimizing their websites for readers who want to buy their books.
Marianne Mancusi, author of the upcoming book Moongazer (Shomi) (which I’ve not read, but I have read Liz Maverick’s Wired (Shomi) in that line which was good), gave a spirited defense of MySpace arguing that she has gained readers and sales from MySpace.
But one thing that Sybil said made alot of sense to me and that is the following:
5) You can find readers yourself by doing searches and adding friends instead of waiting for them to find you. (Mancusi’s reasoning)
I don't see how this is any different than blogs, live journal or whatever. And again, if you have that kind of time you aren't updating your website or blog enough. That makes readers cry. The ones that don't have to ask their mom's for money to buy your books. (Sybil’s response).
Very few author blogs or websites are designed for ease of use with a smartphone, particularly the ones relying heavily on graphics or other multimedia. If you have a dark background, it is especially hard to read on the smartphone or cellphone device. It seems to me that an author’s goal is to sell books and if the reader can’t access a booklist from her smartphone at the bookstore, then the author might be missing out on potential sales and that might be a much more important marketing tool than MySpace.
But for Sybil and my blog, it really makes no difference. Or does it? Say the reader is out running an errand but can’t quite remember the name of the or the author she read about on Sybil’s blog yesterday. She can easily load Syb’s page on her smartphone (Dear Author too) and read the posts and the comments.
For wordpress, it couldn’t be easier to add mobile functionality. Drop this plugin into your plugin folder and you are set.
For everyone else, it isn’t really that hard. All you are doing is stripping off all the fancy graphics and providing just the meat. White background, black lettering. Link to your booklist. Ask your web gal for some help. If you want to see what your site looks like in a mobile browser, head over to the Opera site and paste your web address in the demo form. It can give you an idea of what your cellphone users see with those slimmed down browsers.
Do it for us reader’s sake and you might just make another sale.
Edited to add:
I did modify the index.php file a bit. I added a “comment” link at the top of a post so that you can quickly jump to the comments. It involves adding two small lines of code to the index.php and comment.php file. I would type it in but for some reason, it doesn’t show up here so if you want, you just email me and I’ll send you my modified files. :)