Bookup no. 6 took place on Wedesday, 16 January 2019. It was pretty much like a scene out of a John le Carre novel, minus the action. Or like a joke, minus the punchline. Here it goes:
A woman walks into an empty wine bar, looks around for the biggest table she can find, and sits down right in the middle. She is smiling and looks in good spirits. She orders a glass of Chianti and begins to scrutinise the surroundings. Minutes pass, but nothing happens. She opens her laptop and fakes busyness. More minutes pass. Perhaps she is waiting for someone. Indeed, forty-five minutes later, a man walks in and sits down in front of her. He looks around as if making sure they are alone. The man smiles. The woman sulks.
You guessed it, the woman was me, and the man was the only participant in bookup no. 6. I could have bet that after all the hype this bookup had generated on Facebook, there would have been more participants. Suffice to say, it raised a lot of controversy, with someone even accusing us of “incitement” (to what is unclear🤷🏽♀️).
I confess I have my own suppositions about what happened, why (almost) no one showed up, and why that man did. After all, I had a job before starting to manage Bookups😉.
I will not write about what was discussed. Ted Kaczynski’s essay The Industrial Society and Its Future — aka the Unabomber Manifesto — is definitely worth reading and debating. It deserves more than our bookup was able to offer. The text is, at times, subjective and emotional, but the forces which bring about change are often born out of emotion and only later dressed up in reason.
The tough lessons we learned after Bookup no. 6?
As Radu suggested, it is about time we defined our customers and started building those user personae. And this is where my MA thesis came in handy, since the research I did at Warwick University was on…(drumroll)…why people read💡. Starting from here, we managed to define several types of readers based on motives, and match them up with several types of bookups. The next step would be to start validating them.
We are quickly approaching our ten bookups milestone. This is the threshold we set for drawing some initial conclusions and start developing the MVP, which would ideally take approximately 1/2 year.
At the moment, the one and only urgent need is to start validating the Bookups idea in other European countries and in the US, which proves more difficult a mission than expected. Apparently none of my globe-trotting friends have any interest in attending a bookup. Why would a stranger?