Simon & Schuster Digital Group has launched a social site, Pulse It, that offers a free e-book each month to members, who musts be between 14 and 18 years of age. Kids are presented a choice of two e-books a month and are allowed to pick one to read, which is available online for 60 days. The idea is to get kids sharing thoughts about the books and to get them talking amongst themselves. Members earn points for participating in the community. Monthly sweepstakes offer physical prizes, such as books and “other cool stuff.”
The site’s got all the signatures of a contemporary social site: Member profiles (no email addresses displayed, forcing the discussion to stay in the community for privacy’s sake), message boards and video. On the front page today, author Scott Westerfield (Uglies, Pretties, Specials) is featured in video. Interesting to note that there are no young people on the front page. Privacy certainly has something to do with this, but young faces are a key to engaging first-time visitors with community. Message board postings are not viewable without joining the site—it would be better if some sampling of the discussion were available.
I’d also suggest more images of kids reading and talking on the home page. Holding the current featured titles, preferably.