Social Media

The book at the top of Mark Zuckerberg’s reading list

Eloise Keating /

Could Mark Zuckerberg be the next Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates?

The Facebook founder has taken a lead from Winfrey and Gates’ literary playbook, launching his own book club to promote his New Year resolution to read a new book each fortnight this year. The club is of course on Facebook.

And like his contemporaries, his recommendations have weight. The first book on Zuckerberg’s reading list is The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge isn’t What it Used to Be by Moises Naim.

According to the LA Times, the book has already sold out on Amazon. It is currently in second spot on Amazon’s economic bestsellers list and number 73 on the site overall.

Zuckerberg’s Facebook post announcing his book club attracted more than 120,000 likes and has been shared more than 5700 times, while the book club’s Facebook page “A Year of Books” has attracted a following of more than 160,000 people.

Zuckerberg said Naim’s book “explores how the world is shifting to give individual people more power that was traditionally only held by large governments, militaries and other organisations”.

“The trend towards giving people more power is one I believe in deeply and I’m looking forward to reading this book and exploring this in more detail,” he said.

Eve Ash, psychologist and chief executive of Seven Dimensions, told SmartCompany “people love to follow those who are successful”. 

“Someone like Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson or Mark Zuckerberg already have a huge audience of followers who admire what they have done, so when they refer to a new book, or hold up one for discussion, it gets immediate exposure and with social media the recommendation grows exponentially,” Ash says. 

“It’s natural to follow ‘community leaders’. Perhaps these public bookclubs and mentions provide people who don’t read a lot with a shortcut straight to a book they should read because someone considered important says it’s worth reading.”

But while Zuckerberg’s fans may be stocking up on Naim’s book from overseas retailers, local booksellers are hoping the entrepreneur’s endorsement will mean a jump in sales for them too.

Jon Page, co-owner of Pages and Pages Booksellers in Sydney, told SmartCompany his store is yet to receive an order for The End of Power, but he believes it won’t be long until that changes.

“It is a quiet time of year now, post-Christmas,” Page says.

“I am sure though that as the sales build overseas it will start to become a bestseller here in no time too.”

Tony Nash, chief executive of local online bookseller Booktopia, says sales of Naim’s book are yet to take off but he told SmartCompany he believes Booktopia will sell a few more copies this week.

Melbourne booksellers Readings has also not received any orders for the book this week but books division manager Martin Shaw told SmartCompany Zuckerberg’s decision to launch a book club is in line with moves by other tech giants to capitalise on data about their users.

“There are a lot of big plays going on here with the integration with Amazon,” Shaw says.

“And when you think that Amazon owns [reading recommendation site] Goodreads, you can see the potential for sharing all that data.”

Page says it will be interesting to see how much interest Zuckerberg’s book club generates and is unsure that Zuckerberg can generate the same level of interest as Winfrey’s book club “social media platform or no social media platform”.

“I think it is great though that he is starting a book club and can’t wait to see the type of books he chooses,” Page says.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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