Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interview: Founder David Thompson

David Thompson is an avid supporter of the joys and powers of the written word. When he was only 17, he self-published a series of books called Power Learning designed to help students develop and maintain good study habits. The Power Learning series is currently out of print, but Thompson plans to republish it next year. In the meantime, Thompson’s been developing a new web site that will surely please book readers and the authors who engage them. The site is called ReedAlong, and it’s slated to go live in just a few days.

As you all know, Gazalapalooza loves books, readers and authors. So does Thompson; when he’s not working fervently on ReedAlong he likes reading work by authors including Alexandre Dumas, RenĂ© Girard, George R.R. Martin and Jane Yolen. Clearly, his commitment to the ReedAlong project comes from his experiences as both a reader, and an author.

Recently, Thompson took a quick break from his busy schedule preparing for ReedAlong’s launch to do an interview with Gazalapalooza about his new site, and to share how ReedAlong will boost interaction between readers and their some of their favorite authors. Thompson’s appropriately excited about ReedAlong, and after checking out his interview below you’ll see why.

Gazala:    What is ReedAlong?

Thompson:    ReedAlong is a website where people can read books together. It’s a place where you can discover new books or get a fresh look at your favorites by reading along with the author and other people from all over the world and have daily or weekly chapter discussions.

Gazala:    How did you come up with the idea for ReedAlong?

Thompson:    I got the idea for ReedAlong a few months ago. I was sitting at home reading Neil Gaiman's  American Gods and thought it would be really cool if I could read along with other people and discuss the book chapter by chapter. I love reading but it’s kind of a solitary act. Which is good but it has its bad points, as well. When you read along with others you discover new things even about books you’ve already read. Someone else always has a different point of view that you never thought of. I made a few phone calls and sent a few emails around. I even asked a few authors and it turned out they were really excited to be a part of what I was doing, and things just kind of snowballed from there.

Gazala:    How will ReedAlong work?

Thompson:    Every week, you’ll see a new "Read Along" for a book posted on the site. We like to give people about a week to get the book if they don’t have it yet. We include links to Amazon so you can purchase the book online and have the book delivered in a few days. The author will set the pace, what days each new discussion will be posted and how many chapters will be discussed. With each discussion, you can ask the author questions or leave your own comments about the current chapters. We’ll also keep a history of all the discussions for those who are joining late and for reference. Once you join a Read Along, you’ll always see new updates for that Read Along in your news feed so you won’t miss a thing.

Gazala:    How will the authors featured on ReedAlong be selected?

Thompson:    We contact a lot of authors ourselves. Mostly authors we admire or authors that people in the community want to see on the site. We typically don’t go after the big name authors. We like to see new authors with only a few books under their belts. Diamonds in the rough, so to speak, that we think other people should see. We’re very open to recommendations as well.

Gazala:    Will ReedAlong focus on any particular genre? Why, or why not?

Thompson:    Not really. I’m a big sci-fi and fantasy fan and historically they’ve had the lion’s share of the online communities, likely because those fans have always been more tech savvy. Although, that’s changed since sites like Facebook and Twitter have taken the concept of online communities mainstream. At this point, I’m not going to pigeonhole the site. It’s still very young so we’re going to try a diverse set of genres and focus on where we see the most potential.

Gazala:    How do you hope the ReedAlong community will evolve after its start?

Thompson:    I’d like to see anyone be able to post their own read along. Not just the author. This enables us to cater to a diverse set of tastes and makes the site evolve and grow from the ground up instead of from the top down. Eventually, I’d like to see hundreds of different Read Alongs going on simultaneously.

Gazala:    Who are some authors ReedAlong has lined up for its launch?

Thompson:    We have a great lineup of authors. There are two that I’ll give special mention to: Rex Jameson, author of the Primal Patterns series of novels and the Perspectives series of novelettes. He was the first author we booked and we’re doing a special promotion with his newest book that’s exclusive to all our members. Another one I’d like to mention is a bright young author named Oliver Dahl. At 13 years old he’s written a book that’s just a delight to read, The Dreamers: A Story of Sam Kullen. We’re going to see a lot of good things coming from him, I’m sure.

Gazala:    When will ReedAlong go live?

Thompson:    We expect to officially go live on October 6th.

Gazala:    How should authors and readers interested in ReedAlong find out more about it?

Thompson:    Visit our site at and sign up for our newsletter. We’ll be sending out updates and special offers in the time leading up to our launch.

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