Jeff Howe's One Book One Twitter is a book club aimed at bringing together readers from across the globe.

Early this month, the media and cricket fans went into a tizzy when Sachin Tendulkar joined Twitter. While we were busy clocking Sachin's followers (over 2,76,000 now), there has been another wave riding on Twitter.

Avid readers, shattering geographic boundaries, came together to start reading chapters from Neil Gaiman's American Gods on One Book, One Twitter (@1b1t2010), a global reading and discussion club, mooted by Jeff Howe.

‘What if a zillion people read and talked about a single book?' thought Jeff Howe, author of Crowdsourcing and contributing editor for technology at wired.com. Also a Nieman fellow at Harvard, Howe's idea stemmed from the One City, One Book project started in Seattle in 1998 by Nancy Pearl.

Howe took this idea further and envisioned a virtual club. On One Book One Twitter, launched on March 24, followers voted from a selection of books, which included Arundathi Roy's God of Small Things. The voting went in favour of American Godsand Howe and his chosen board members drew up a reading schedule whereby followers read a few chapters each week, from May to June, and share their thoughts.

Howe is delighted with the response: “The conversation has been robust, pointed, critical, interesting, humorous, and insightful. It's taking place between thousands of people from almost every imaginable country,” he shares, in an e-mail interview with MetroPlus. He hopes for a good participation from India, given the relatively high number of readers and people connected to the Internet.

Howe is eager to see how #1b1t will eventually turn out. “If there's a strong demand to continue #1b1t throughout the year I can imagine facilitating that. But otherwise, I think we should do it once or twice annually. I've been toying with the idea of hosting it again in July for a book that would take us through August. Everyone will be done with American Godsin early July,” he says.

Howe and team have approached Harper Collins to have #1b1t badge and imagery appear in bookstores in the US. Howe estimates that “somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people are reading along with us, with a fraction of that — say 1,000 people — posting several times a day. There's a question of how large #1b1t could scale. What if we had a million people participating? I'd love to see it.”

What are the other initiatives or ideas that Jeff Howe feels could be tapped into, like One City, One Book? “The one project I'd really like to tackle next has to do with maternal health,” he says. “This has nothing to do with books of course, but I'm interested in how the crowd could be tapped to tackle easily preventable health issues like malaria or, again, threats to maternal health. But at this point that's just idle wishing. I've barely had time to get #1b1t off the ground, so I'll concentrate on that for now.”

For those predicting the death of books and reading habits, the internet has its share of book clubs and Twitter, too, has its own book clubs — @thebookclub and the Twitter Book Club (#tbc). What sets #1b1t apart is its ability to make thousands read the same book at the same time.

Join in

Log on to www.twitter.com and follow @1b1t

Check the reading schedule at Jeff Howe's blog crowdsourcing. typepad.com

Include the hash tag #1b1t in all your tweets pertaining to the book.

Log on to www.twitter.com and follow @1b1t

Check the reading schedule at Jeff Howe's blog crowdsourcing. typepad.com

Include the hash tag #1b1t in all your tweets pertaining to the book.