May 2 2013 3:30pm

Fantastic Voyage: Discovering New Authors

Book image by merra muchut via Flickr Creative CommonsNo 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?

Book image courtesy of merra muchut via Flickr



Jennifer Porter, a mild-mannered librarian by day, runs the review site Romance Novel News and is a compulsive romance reader. She has a tendency to live tweet her craziest reads as @JenniferRNN.
Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Amy R
1. Amy R
I find new authors mainly thru the people I follow on Twitter & Goodreads but I also check out the new release shelf at my local library.
2. keen23
I find new authors mostly through Goodreads. If people who have a similar profile like an author, I'll try that author.

Also, Kindle Daily Deals. If an ebook is only going to cost me $1.99 or $2.99 and seems even the least bit interesting, I'll buy it. That's why my TBR on my Kindle is around 100 books long...
Amy R
3. Torifl
Social media is my main pipe line.

And Amy. lol
Julia Broadbooks
4. juliabroadbooks
Twitter. My discovery is mostly through twitter recs or convos I overhear on twitter.
5. JenniferPorter
keen23, the Kindle Daily Deals get me all the time too! And as a librarian, I recommend libraries all the time to everyone.
Carmen Pinzon
6. bungluna
I find most of my new authors through sites like this one, AAR and other reveiw sites. I know some reviewers, like Mrs. Giggle, whose hated books are sure to become my favorites ;). When desperation hits, I go to the recommended for you at Amazon and Goodreads.
Elizabeth Halliday
7. Ibbitts
Mostly through my friends. If they read something they think I'll like, they will reccommend.
Sometimes, through an Author that I like: J. R. Ward had Darynda Jones as guest on her chatroom just prior to the release of the first book in the Charley Davidson series, so I gave it a try and found the series delightful.
Occasionally, social media: I read an article about RT and it mentioned a panel of Authors consisting of Sylvia Day, Tiffany Reisz, Lauren Dane, Jaci Burton and Maya Banks. I love Sylvia Day and Tiffany Reisz, so I put the other three Authors on my list to research and see if I might like them too.
Amy R
8. Megaera
I haven't been able to make Goodreads work for me as a recommendation engine, probably because I don't want to devote the time to it. And Twitter, to be honest, baffles me. So mostly I rely on sites like this, but I don't get enough recommendations through them. I would love more...
Nicole Leapheart
9. BoxyFrown
I used to troll the libraries for new releases, but these days I troll awesome blogs like this one, troll goodreads, or get recs from friends.
10. Kareni
I was in both a library and a book store today which is not all that unusual for me. I was also in a thrift store perusing the book shelves there. Call me a Luddite, but I still read only paper books. (And I have yet to visit Twitter.)

I do get many book suggestions from sites such as this one. I also browse Amazon looking at the 'people who bought this book also bought ..." listings.
Ellen Hutchings
11. shadowmaster13
I hunt through the bargain bins at Kmart and BigW for $4 romances to give an author a go (they're usually pretty good) and of course my library.

But online? Amazon's other people who viewed this page bought... link on my series' and Goodreads.
Amy R
12. SassyT
Mostly I get my recs from Barnes & Nobles (they send out an email every week about new books coming out. they list different genres..i.e. fiction, teen, non-fiction, etc.). From there, I usually hit Amazon to read the blurb on the book and see if I'd like it. I also then scroll through the "if you like this, you might like" part at the bottom of the screen. I've gotten a lot of book recs from that. Then my best friend (who is a librarian) will also recommend some things. I miss book stores (we have only one and I hate that place...they closed the one I liked going to). I refuse to get an e-reader so I'm still an actual paper book girl. So, that's how I get my recs and I've got huge list of TBRs.
Amy R
13. Malinovka
And libraries. Thank every god there is for libraries (and librarians, natch.) Nothing better than lurking in the aisles, plucking books off the shelf randomly, and getting drunk on that delicious old-book-smell.
Amy R
14. MistyWA
I check multiple places each day looking for new books/authors. Twitter is a big one. I've bought quite a few books based on Jennifer's tweets and reviews. If one of my favorite authors recs a book I'll usually end up buying it.

I follow several review blogs and once I find reviewers that click with my preferred books I tend to buy their recommendations.

Amazon sells me lots of books through their recs.I read the Romance Forum in the Discussions on Amazon and find lots of new books especially when they narrow the topic down to a paticular trope.

I follow a thread on Goodreads in the Kristen Ashley group with loads of recommendations from fellow KA groupies and I don't think I have bought a bad book yet.
Deborah Scholl
15. Debscholl
While I am an e-reader, I still like to browse bookstores, particularly independents. I check the B&N newsletter and recommendations from other web bookstores I buy from, plus blogs/newsletters like this one. Recommendations from friends are always welcome.
Jen Tullis
16. tullisjen
I love my library! I check the new book releases. GoodReads is where I get most of my recommendations, I have few friends that are as voracious as I am when it comes to books, and the ones I have are into genres that I'm just not that in to. I also have an account at that I will search for different authors. Kindle also kills me, I have several free or under 2.99 books on my Kindle. I will never get through all of the books in my TBR list on my Kindle or my bookshelves. This blog and Twitter have also helped my habit.

Sometimes I think I need a 12-step program!
Post a comment