Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Funny Little Modern Oddity

Yesterday, the oddest email landed in my inbox. It was from Amazon. "Paul Vigna," it said, "are you looking for something in our Industries in Business & Money eBooks department? If so, you might be interested in these items."

Now, what item do you think was at the top of the list? The Age of Cryptocurrency. Now that, I thought to myself, is fantastic. Amazon is promoting my book in its little email circulars (does anybody use the term circular for these kinds of things? Am I showing my age there?) I actually started getting pretty excited about it.

Then I thought about it for a second, and it dawned on me why that book was at the top of the list.

It was at the top of the list because I've been going to the website and looking the book up (this is the page, in case you're interested in a preorder). Not daily, but a lot, pretty much daily, probably more than anybody save maybe Mike. So, of course, what happened is obvious: Amazon's tracking software records that I've been there, and it almost certainly also knows I haven't placed an order (although that certainly shouldn't stop you). When it comes time for Amazon's algorithms to select the books I'm most likely to buy, because they're the ones I've been looking at, what does it pick?

The Age of Cryptocurrency.

Now, on the one hand, that's a nifty piece of software Amazon's got there. I'm quite sure they spend an awful lot of money to get that stuff right, and to be able to match people up with the things they are most likely to buy.  But on the other hand, it's a failure, because it sent an ad to the least likely person to buy that book. I mean, I've, like, already read it. The computer read my name on the sales side, but didn't read it on the author side. Or, if it did, it couldn't discern that they were the same (it's not like my name is Joe Greene, after all) and that it shouldn't try to sell me a book I wrote.

Modern living, man. It's a blast sometimes.

Still, I was excited to see Cryptocurrency there, and I'd imagine, or hope, it will be included in other circulars, to other people. So all in all it's a good sign.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Coming Soon: The Age of Cryptocurrency

Things are going to start happening quickly now, I think. "The Age of Cryptocurrency" is 75 days away from publication, Jan. 27. We got our first review, too, from Publishers Weekly. It's what they call a starred review, meaning it's got a little star next to it, which I'm told is their way of indicating this is an important book.

I sure as hell they're right; Mike Casey and I poured a lot into this book, and we really do think this is going to be the first comprehensive look not only at bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, but at everything that's gone into bringing them about and pointing at where they're going: their genesis, their cultural influence, their potential, the technology, where it can fit into the mainstream world, and what challenges that presents.

Publishers Weekly didn't do a full-blown review for the general public, mind you; that's not what they do. These reviews are mainly for media and book buyers, it's a way of telling them what's coming up.

Anyhow, it's pretty exciting. Now that we're done with the writing and editing (I believe), we're into planning the marketing and publicity. This is a completely new world for me.

Even though I never wrote a book before, I've certainly written. But I've never done press interviews, and book launches, and marketing, and everything that comes along with trying to sell a book. It's kind of fun.

Anyhow, here's their review:
While many readers understandably have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of non-government-backed currency, journalists Casey (Che’s Afterlife) and Vigna, who blog about cryptocurrency at the Wall Street Journal’s MoneyBeat blog, here use their considerable expertise to make the Bitcoin phenomenon accessible. They take a thorough, multidisciplinary approach to the topic, including a fascinating examination of the origin of money. The authors are appropriately cautious, warning that despite increased public awareness of Bitcoin, it remains a niche product, and the jury is still out on how far and how quickly it and other digital currency will spread. However, newcomers will gain a better understanding of the revolutionary potential of digital currency, especially for the “roughly 2.5 billion people from Afghanistan to Africa to even America who have been shut out of the modern finance system.” And the explication of the non-currency applications of the concepts behind Bitcoin—such as tamper-proof records of verified information—will be valuable to any reader. Agent: Gillian McKenzie, Gillian McKenzie Agency. (Jan.)