No matter how many books you own or the size of your to be read pile, most of you continue to look for new books to read. Before online publishing and retail, chances are you browsed bookstore shelves at least once a month, if not more, to find your next great read. If you found an author you liked, maybe you did research on the author’s backlist or read excerpts in the back of books in order to supplement your to be bought list. Next, maybe you went to the author’s website to find out even more and to learn of future books.
But the book discovery process has been complicated by the changing landscape of the book market. The reduction of brick and mortar stores, shrinking inventories, advent of digital-first publishers, explosion in the sales of ebooks, dominance by online etailers, and the rise of self-publishing have all radically impacted the way that we discover new titles.
Today, the vast majority of my own book discovery is done online. I haven’t been in a bookstore in several years, and I doubt this will change. There are several reasons for this, but probably the most important one is because I have made the switch from paper books to digital. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I bought a paper book. This means, however, that serendipitous browsing of book shelves is out. As a result, I’ve had to develop different strategies to keep abreast of new releases and new-to-me authors.
My biggest source of information is online etailer sites. These sites have robust recommendation engines that are driven by my purchases. These engines are often very accurate, and I find that most of my favorite authors’ new books are added to my recommendations with alacrity. Once they show up in my recommendations, I move them into my “Books to Buy” wishlist. These lists also suggest a fascinating blend of books from smaller publishers and/or authors who self-publish. Again, I check these lists routinely and make purchases from them.
Beyond etalier sites, I also use sites that allow me to connect with other readers to get more personal recommendations. These sites include GoodReads, Shelfari and LibraryThing. These all have their own recommendation engines, but also feature reader-developed lists and community features for book discussions. I’ve gotten lost going through reader lists associated with my favorite tropes, like “romances where the heroine falls in love with older brother’s best friend.”
But it is another social media site that is responsible for the majority of my book purchases these days—Twitter. The romance community on Twitter is extensive and extremely active. I follow many readers, reviewers and authors and have developed a fairly large circle of people whose opinions I value. Sometimes, I know if they hate a book, it might be something I will love or vice versa. Many Twitter friends know my tastes and send me links to stories they believe I might like. They are frequently right.
These days, book discovery is a complicated process, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Keeping track of books from self-published authors has its own challenges.
So, what about you? What strategies do you have to discover new books to read?