How to people find out about books? This is one question that has always kept publishers up at night. With so many platforms available to promote new and mid-list titles, it’s daunting when it becomes clear that few houses have the resources to pursue all avenues. But it seems as though some things never change. Goodreads.com, for example, shares that 79% of their subscribers say they discover titles off-line through word-of-mouth (friends). Compare that to just 6% discover titles through Twitter. Meanwhile, literary agent Nancy Stauffer and Betsy Burton of The King’s English came up with an idea that led to “Indies First”, a program spearheaded by author /film maker Sherman Alexie, which enlists authors to work for a day in their local indie bookstore to help kick-start a grassroots movement to revive local book selling (and, more important, local book buying).
Virtual communities like Goodreads and Bookish.com and real places like your corner bookstore are still figuring out how to pair the right book with the right reader. But then there is the old guard, such as Library Journal, which still stands strong after all of these years, as powerful gold standard for librarians to discover titles for their readers. A forthcoming Tatra Press title, My Cancer Year: A Survivorship Memoir (Oct 2013) was recently praised in LJ’s pages: “…His reactions to cancer and survivorship will enlighten anyone facing the same crisis, those close to him, and survivors…. The honesty of this book will resonate with cancer patients, and care-givers and health professionals will find it a realistic read if they wish to know more about with if feels like to have cancer.”
As readers, reviewers, and publishers alike still try to understand how readers find books, it’s heartening to see that an old-fashioned way—book reviews curated by book professionals in a print magazine—is still so influential and relevant. And still works.