In February, in a small shop with bright green walls in North London, a local bookstore proprietor started tweeting the full text of the first Harry Potter book at Piers Morgan.
The shopkeeper, Simon Key, had been inspired by a Twitter feud between J.K. Rowling and the British T.V. personality/internet blowhard. Morgan, responding to Rowling’s expressing delight at him being told to “fuck off” on Real Time with Bill Maher, wrote, “This is why I’ve never read a single word of Harry Potter.” The next day, the Big Green Bookshop’s co-owner started tweeting. He tweeted hundreds of times and was blocked, others carried on his work and his hashtag, and the book store became momentarily Twitter-famous.
The Bookseller, a British magazine that reports on the publishing industry, quoted Key as saying the store received a sizable boost in sales. But Twitter fame can only sustain a business for so long, and on Sunday Key sent out a plea for help:
Ironically (or fittingly?), the campaign to save the Big Green Bookshop turned the shop, at least temporarily, into an international e-commerce business, a scaled-down version of the services often blamed for edging out indie bookstores. While many Londoners did turn to Twitter to find out if a book they wanted was in stock before swinging by, it seemed most people asked for shipments by mail.