What do people dressed up in Harry Potter costumes waiting for a book release have in common with the pilgrims to the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting?
They're all devoted superfans, and they're the subject of the new book "Superfandom: How Our Obsessions Are Changing What We Buy and Who We Are."
"Fandom is a topic that has a lot of baggage. We associate it with crying tweens at a Bieber concert, or elderly eccentrics collecting beanie babies," says Zoe Fraade-Blanar, who wrote the book with Aaron Glazer.
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These devoted fans — the renaissance fair attenders, Star Trek groupies and Beliebers of the world — have always intrigued and bewildered me, because I can't relate. I don't root for any sports team. I don't wait for anyone's surprise singles to drop. I like some authors and some movies and some TV shows, but the closest I've come to obsession is reading up on alternate "Mad Men" theories.
But in Fraade-Blanar and Glazer's telling, over the last 20 years superfandom has exploded to include almost everyone. They encountered devoted fans first-hand at their plush toy company, Squishables, which relied on crowdsourcing for new products, to the delight and sometime dismay of their vocal fanbase.
"The internet has removed a lot of the stigma to being a fan — for the first time it's safe for us to pursue the things we love and no one has to know," Fraade-Blanar says.
So Fraade-Blanar (a fan of Golden Age murder mysteries) and Glazer ("a superfan of the Starwood Preferred Guest program") set out to demystify the phenomenon. "We thought it was time to own it," Fraade-Blanar says. They explained their own fan-obsession to NBC News BETTER.