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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Page 99 Test?

Meetings, writing the new book, and a trip to the pumpkin patch put RA for All on hold yesterday. But fear not, I am back with a fun exercise.

A few websites and blogs I follow do something call the page 69 test. Basically, the idea is you can get a good sense of the feel of a book by turning to page 69 and reading it. There is a variant called the page 99 test, which Rebecca Vnuk blogged about on Book Group Buzz last week. This test is attributed to Ford Maddox Ford who said, “Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.”

To see an archive of reviews based on the page 69 test click here. And for a list of page 99 test reviews, click here.

When I first heard of these tests a few years ago, I realized I had been doing something similar for years. At the BPL out tech services staff put the accession date for adult fiction in the spine of page 100.  Just for fun, I often turn to that page and read what is there.

I have to say from experience, reading a page of a fiction title a good chunk of the way in, is a useful exercise. You will not know the plot, but you will get a taste of what the book has to offer. Plot you can find on the book jacket or on Amazon, but the feel of the book is hard to get short of reading the book.

Try it for yourself. Also, I would suggest looking at the archives of the page 69 or 99 tests above and pick out a book you have already read. See if the reviewer got the feel of the book right or not, in your experience. If you cannot find one that works for you, compare this page 69 test of The Reapers Are the Angles to my review of the same book. I think it works.

I can see using this exercise with patrons. The next time a patron is not sure if she will like a book that I am suggesting to her, I will have her turn to page 100 and read what is there, reminding her to see if she likes the feel of the book.

If you try this yourselves or with patrons, please let me know how it goes.

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