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Superfandom: How Our Obsessions are Changing What We Buy and Who We Are Hardcover – March 21, 2017
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“Fans aren’t just customers―they care more about what your company does, both good and bad―and no one understands how fans tick and what they can mean for a business better than Zoe and Aaron.”
- Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
“In a 1986 sketch on Saturday Night Live, William Shatner told a gathering of Trekkers at a Holiday Inn in Rye, New York, to “get a life . . . for crying out loud.” A lot has happened since then. Tremendous technological transformations and online opportunities have created a complex calculus regarding the relationship between texts and brands and the people who love them. Superfandom provocatively explores this evolving relationship―with a dazzling number of examples―and describes what happens when fans don’t just consume something but influence it as well. And it’s not just a celebration of the new voices now being heard in the process of the production of culture; it also describes how superfans can, on occasion, be real pains-in-the-neck.”
- Robert Thompson, professor at the Newhouse School of Public Communication and director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University
“Superfandom is the ultimate guide to making the most of the new fan-based economy. It presents the new way businesses interact with their customers, and it’s funny, too. Read it for insights into epic failure and brilliant success in fan management, or read it for stories about the politics of Disney’s social clubs. Either way, you won’t regret it. Your fandom will be better off for it.”
- Jonah Berger, professor at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and best-selling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On
“An insightful and entertaining look at the culture of fandom, from its early days right up to the present . . . . Well-reasoned and engagingly written.”
“Recommended for companies who seek to create a successful brand, as well as readers interested in the nature of fan culture.”
- Library Journal
About the Author
Zoe Fraade-Blanar is a faculty member of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and NYU Journalism. She is a cofounder and the CCO of the crowdsourced toy company Squishable.
Aaron M. Glazer is a cofounder and the CEO of Squishable. Previously, he worked as a consultant and journalist.
Top customer reviews
In the opening ‘Welcome to the Fandom Singularity’, the concept of the title of the book is defined: ‘Fandom refers to the structures and practices that form around piece of popular culture. It’s a very old, very human phenomenon; acting in a fanlike way is probably as ancient as the culture itself….It’s easy to attribute the modern explosion in fandom to the increased connectivity of a tech-savvy audience. In terms of scale this is certainly true. But fandom is predigital. It’s also prephonograph. It’s even preliteracy…The modern term ‘fan object’ is what we now call these centers of emotion and activity, pieces of culture that inspire both loyalty, and, more importantly, activity…Modern marketing has stumbled upon the benefits of fandom, not for fans’ ability to create worlds, but for their predictable buying habits. “Get the fans excited, and maybe they’ll also give you money,’ so goes the wisdom…At the moment, fan objects and their fans still occupy two distinct roles within the world of consumption. There are makers, and there are buyers. The two rarely overlap. But as audience experience shifts away from mere consumption of a fan text and toward influencing, or even adding to it, the space between the audience and the fan object is narrowing…We are entering a period of convergence, of fandom singularity, where the distinction blurs between fans and fan object, between who is the creator and who is the consumer…’
As the authors state in the synopsis – ‘As fandom sheds its longtime stigmas of geekiness and hysteria, fans are demanding more from the celebrities and brands they love. Digital tools have given all organizations--from traditional businesses to tech startups-- direct, real-time access to their most devoted consumers, and it's easy to forget that this access flows both ways. This is the new "fandom-based economy": a convergence of brand owner and brand consumer. Fan pressures hold more clout than ever before as they demand a say in shaping the future of the things they love. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.’
Yes, the concept of mind manipulation is frightening and yes, it is possible that we all are falling into this arena of silliness (look what we did with the presidential elections this year and how that is playing out….). But read this book cover to cover and understand what we are doing and perhaps we can alter the future of consumerism. This is recommended reading for everyone. Grady Harp, March 17
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
I hoarded quilt fabric, driving up to an hour or two to quilt shops. There were 'had to buy' quilt books. I joined a monthly quilt guild and a weekly quilt group and attended local quilt shows. I took quilt classes to learn new techniques and I subscribed to the important quilt magazines.
As my husband's work took us across Michigan, everywhere we went I quickly identified other quilt addicts.
Like most quilters, I discovered which national quilt teachers, writers, and artists inspired me. I bought their books, took classes with them, followed them online, and bought the fabric lines they designed.
I had become a quilting superfan.
In the 'old days' quilters bought cheap fabric, made cardboard or paper templates, and with a pair of scissors, needle, and thread and made a quilt. Today, quilters purchase fabric that costs over $10 a yard and buy ready made kits with pattern and fabric included. They have machines to cut patches or applique shapes, fuse applique pieces instead of hand stitching them, and pay long arm machine quilters hundreds of dollars to quilt their quilt top. National shows and quilt retreats mean overnight stays at expensive hotels, and there are even quilt cruises or trips abroad. Quilting has become big business and an expensive hobby.
Reading Zoe Fradde-Blanar and Arron M. Glazer's new book Superfandom I realized how I had become a superfan without realizing it.
The authors are the founders of Squishable.com, Inc, which produces stuffed animals for the teen and adult market--Squishable Cthulhus and Grim Reapers. They even have States of Happiness, so if you love California or Michigan you can now, well, squish them.
In the preface they tell the story creating a prototype Shiba Inu Squishable. The Kickstarter concept art was well received: a red dog with circular eye patches. But when fans saw the actual toy the fans complained. It was all wrong. To keep the fans happy they had a virtual Halloween party--in the middle of a hurricane that hit New York City in 2012.
Our Shiba, Suki
I know Shiba Inus. We have had four since 1991. Our first Shiba was home bred, her daddy champion stock. But few Americans had heard of Shibas and the breeder could not find buyers. We got our Kili cheap; it was the best $250 we ever spent. She gave us over 16 years of happiness.
Over those 16 years we bought Shiba calanders, rooted for the Shiba in the television dog shows, bought Shiba Christmas ornaments--and my brother made me a Shiba key rack.
By the time we adopted our second Shiba the breed had become the Internet sensation known as Doge.
Our (once) unusual, beloved bred suddenly was appearing on television commercials, on dog toys and pet food, and all over the Internet. We were Shiba fans before we were Superfans.
Our son funded a kickstarter for a role playing game aimed for younger children and featuring dogs. He paid to have our Shibas appear in the art work:
Now that is Superfandom.
The book dissects fandom, the motivation behind our affiliation with a sport, a cartoon character, book or movie series, why we attend Trekkie conventions and Renaissance Fairs, and invest our money, time, and emotional commitment in fan objects.
In a world where affiliation to family, place, church, or school has been disrupted by mobility, we need to find community, a common love, people 'like us'. Now we buy our way into social networks with an Apple phone, concert T-shirt, or even with a trendy dog to walk.
I received a free book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.