How do you find your next book to read?

Browsing BooksI was just discussing with a friend how important promoting ones book can be before and after its release and thought I’d bring the topic to my blog for others to join in on the discussion. This is something both readers and writers could both benefit from.  It’s not easy getting through the quagmire of potential books with so many out there.

We all have various methods for locating books we’d be interested in purchasing, but there are a few ways that tend to be more dominant than others.  Forbes posted an article recently that outlined the most important of these based on market research (see the full article here).  They discovered Amazon’s search engines only played a small part in how readers find books.

Self-publishers often think themselves unaffected by ‘planned search and purchase’, not least because for most of us the idea of having our books in a bookshop feels like a distant dream. The assumption that self-publishers work to is that the key to cracking Amazon is to rank highly in their recommendation algorithm and many pixels are spilt by self-publishing bloggers telling us how to do exactly that.

But McCabe’s statistics show that only a piddling 10 percent of Amazon book choices are made because of its ‘bought this/also bought’ recommendation engine. Bestseller and top 100 lists influence 17 percent of book choices, with 12 percent down to promotions, deals, or low prices. Only 3 percent came through browsing categories. Planned search by author or topic, however, makes up a whopping 48 percent of all book choices.

This implies most readers already know what they are going to buy before they even go to Amazon.  They are discovering the books that interest them through other sources such as friends and promotions on other sites.  Only after that do they make the call to buy it (after, perhaps, reading reviews and other relevant info).  This is something all authors, indie or trad, should keep in mind if they want to set their own work up for success.

I know for me I do buy some books based on Amazon recommendations, but many more are because I heard about the book elsewhere.  Some of my favorites have been through recommendations of people whose opinion I trust (friends and specific genre book bloggers being the most relevant).  I prefer to listen to those who have similar taste to me.  Just as many others do, I suspect.  The point is, people have to know about a book before they can even go check it out.  If your name isn’t out there, readers won’t find you.

My question for you all is “What methods do you use to find books you might like?”  If you could list a few of your top ways, that would be helpful.

~ by Suzie on February 27, 2013.

22 Responses to “How do you find your next book to read?”

  1. Interesting post, Suzie. And you’re right – I don’t buy that many books based on Amazon recommendations. I do buy books that friends recommend to me … or interesting ones that I come across when I’m at my local book store. Lately I’ve also been buying books by authors I’ve connected with on Amazon discussion groups (and I wish Barnes & Noble had similar discussion groups on their site) or through some blogs that I track.

  2. I usually know what books I’m looking for when I go on Amazon, but if I’m looking for books on a general topic, Amazon’s recommendations can come in helpful. In fact, I’ve found books I didn’t even know existed that way. My favorite way to shop for books is still to go to a brick and mortar book store and look through the shelves. Not all books on Amazon allow you to look at sample pages, but obviously that’s not a problem when you can hold the book in your hands. I also can find some unexpected gems on topics I wasn’t even considering when I’m in a bookstore. So, for me it’s: #1 Bookstore; #2 Targeted Amazon search; #3 Amazon recommendations. Yet another great topic Suzie!

    • Thanks for your input, Daisy. I haven’t been in a Brick and Mortar store for some time, but I’m sure many people do still rely on them to find good books. Browsing online just isn’t quite the same as thumbing through the physical copies.

  3. Probably 50% of what I buy is because a friend or a Goodreads group member told me the book was good. I’m the ultimate impulse buyer, though, and if a writer has a conversation with me on Twitter and has a catchy blurb about their book in a tweet, I’m likely to buy it. Just this week I picked up 2 stories where the writer had a nice hook in a tweet. I checked the Amazon back-page and any reviews and impulse bought. Maybe only 10% of what i buy is via the Amazon suggests or “those who bought this, bought that” suggestions.

    • Debra, I do think discussions of books help people find ones they might like. Glad you mentioned this as one of your methods. I admit to the occasional impulse buy as well. You never know when you might find a gem not many people know about.

  4. My reading recs come from:
    1. A particular Amazon forum where I’ve been beein interacting for 1.5 years
    2. Online friends I’ve made in the paranormal reader/writer community
    3. Books that pop up on lists that are similar to ones I’ve already read and enjoyed

    • Good answers, Dicey. I rely a lot on the paranormal reader community to help me find books, though I’ll search them out occasionally on my own as well.

  5. Good post and a lot of great comments!

    I find books many different ways. I exchange from friends and friends. I read book reviews. I follow my favorite authors. I go to the used book store. I look into books that I hear about on the radio (NPR.) I go to the local library (which by the way always has a lot of people there.) In past few years I’ve discovered Indie authors and have even found a few because they read my blog (and mine isn’t an author blog – it is just silly stuff and parenting musings.)

    One thing that frustrates me with Amazon and B&N online sites is that they “assume” from what I’ve purchased in the past, that I only read one kind of book. I can’t stand the “bought this also”. I’ve had horrible luck with those books.

    I read everything everything from old favorites to new odd ball discoveries. I love my Nook and online buying but I do love just going through the shelves at a bookstore or library for that chance discovery. And what do I read? It depends on my mood or what I just read. When I’m stressed I don’t want to read a long literary novel about the pitiful state of humanity. I want something light and fun. But when I’m sitting in the evening relaxed with a bottle of wine under the stars I could read anything – maybe something about history or a thriller.

    I love discovering a new book or author, especially when it is something I would never “normally read”. I’ve had quite a few of those in the past year.

    • Thanks, Juliette, for going in-depth with how you find books. I think people do use a variety of methods, but it’s interesting how many people I’ve heard use libraries. Amazon recommendations are hit and miss for me too, but I have found several of my favorite authors that way. I suppose it depends on how much of your reading material is purchased through them (almost all of mine is). With you using so many sources, though, I can see how they could be rather off in their recommendations.

      • You young’uns don’t remember back when we not only didn’t we have no internet, but most people lived a lot closer to a library than to a large bookstore. I was excited back when Bookstar came to town, and I didn’t have to drive to Pasadena to visit a good bookstore. I used to do most of my book buying by looking up books in Books in Print in the library and then special ordering them at B. Dalton …

    • Juliette, I know what you mean. I’m eclectic in my reading tastes, and I have never used that “bought also” feature.

  6. Amazon recommendations can be downright weird. Especially if you have eclectic taste.

    I don’t have time to read all the interesting books offered to me free. (Mostly because working gets in the way of my preferred lifestyle.) For me, selecting books is almost like triage. The downside is that I feel pressure to get the ones I do take read and reviewed …

  7. A very useful post. Thanks for putting it up.

    I’ll read a postage stamp stuck to the ground with some mouldy old chewing gum, so my tastes are pretty indiscriminate. If I buy from Amazon (which is rare), I’ll go by a tweet that catches my eye, or something recommended on a forum like this.

    For online books I’ll go mainly by the blurb. However, if I see a discussion thread and I like the author’s style of writing e.g. their personality in a post, I’ll check out their website or blog and see what they’ve done. If I like it, I’ll buy.

    Otherwise, it’s (in this order) :

    For classics or specialist genres: local charity shops (I sometimes help out in one – lucky me! :))
    Anything else:

    Friends’ recommendations
    Borrowed from relatives’ bookshelves
    High street bookstore

    (And I may have just given myself some marketing advice!)

    • Lol, JJ. It’s funny, but analyzing your own buying habits can be helpful in determining how to market to your readers. It seems several people here have eclectic methods for choosing their reading material, but it’s good to know what those are for authors to reference.

  8. I use goodreads and kind of just pick one of my to read books at random. Otherwise I take to long to decide.

    • Whatever method works best for you, Froglyprince. I tend to keep a lot of books (in my various favorite genres) on my TBR and pick them out by mood most of the time.

  9. […] How do you find your next book to read? […]

  10. […] How do you find your next book to read? […]

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