The New Yorker Hides New Jonathan Franzen Story Behind Facebook Wall

By Nicholas Jackson

Jonathan Franzen has a new, 12,000-word piece in the current issue of The New Yorker, but it's only available to subscribers and, for a limited time, those who "Like" the magazine on Facebook. The celebrated Conde Nast title has built a special page on their Facebook account where the full text of Franzen's story, "Farther Away," lives. Once a visitor "Likes" the magazine, the text is displayed, but it can only be read on the social network.

The story is based on Alejandro Selkirk, the island made famous in Robinson Crusoe. After the death of his friend and a long book tour, Franzen visited the island to grieve and recover. The story will be popular this week as many publications, including this one (http://bit.ly/h6BeDF), have run lengthy pieces on David Foster Wallace ahead of the release of his posthumous novel, The Pale King.

"Our goal with this isn't just to increase our fans," Alexa Cassanos, a spokeswoman for the magazine, told Mashable's Todd Wasserman. "We want to engage with people who want to engage on a deeper level."

But how many of the new fans will remain fans after they've finished Franzen's article? How many want to be engaged? And what value is there in having new fans who are only there because of Franzen and David Foster Wallace? A big number of fans -- and The New Yorker currently has more than 200,000 -- looks good, but social media mavens place a higher premium on engagement.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/04/the-new-yorker-hides-new-jonathan-franzen-story-behind-facebook-wall/237100/