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Publisher asks readers to 'name that author'

Publishing & Media

There’s nothing like a little surprise and mystery to spark fresh interest in a company or product, and we’ve recently seen a spate of companies that are putting that idea to work. Hipstery and ShoeDazzle are two examples from the world of fashion, and recently we came across one in publishing: Fourth Estate, a UK imprint of HarperCollins that recently challenged its readers to guess which authors wrote the anonymous stories in a new collection. HarperCollins is no stranger to involving the crowds, as we’ve already seen via Authonomy, its recent crowdsourcing effort. Now there’s Anonthology, a collection of nine short stories written by a variety of Fourth Estate authors and published earlier this year as part of Fourth Estate’s 25th anniversary celebration. The trick is that while the authors’ names are on the cover of the collection, they’re not associated with the stories themselves; rather, it’s up to readers to guess which one wrote which story. Joyce Carol Oates, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Patrick Gale are among the authors represented in the collection, which is available both in print and online. (Of particular interest to regular Springwise readers is that the online version is powered by Issuu, which we covered last year.) UK-based readers of the free publication could take their best shot at matching the people with the prose, as long as they did so before midday today. The winner—drawn randomly from all correct entries received—will win a complete set of five Fourth Estate 25th Anniversary special edition books. The company’s website explains: “The Anonthology is an experimental project to assess the importance placed on name and reputation over quality of writing. Amongst the writers contained within we have Orange and Genius Prize winners, Booker and Pulitzer Prize nominees. We have one author who’s sold over half a million copies, another who’s written over fifty books. But can you tell which is which? And how does it change the reading experience, not knowing if the author is young or old, male or female?” Of course, it’s also a compelling way to engage consumers and increase both awareness and involvement in the company and its products. One to spend a quick brainstorm session on: how can your company add a splash of mystery or surprise to its own story or offerings…? (Related: Author’s next thriller will be cowritten by the crowds.) Spotted by: Katherine Noyes



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