A few recent articles got me thinking about how I pick which books I am going to read next. Of course this led me to asking all of you...the professionals, exactly how you pick the books you are going to read.
Digital Book World featured this article by a "power reader," someone who reads hundreds of books a year. She was specifically referring to how she finds ebook recommendations, but I think the idea holds for print too. From the post:
I find it very hard to browse online — if I knew what book I wanted, then Amazon was the place to go, but what could I do if all I knew was that I wanted another book? And this happens often; I read genre fiction almost exclusively, mainly romances, and I read them fast: somewhere between 300 and 400 a year, if I could afford it, and if I could find that many novels I want to read.
The solution could come in the form of the book recommendation websites — websites devoted to finding me the perfect book based on my interests. But, as with everything on the Internet, it can feel like there is an overwhelming amount of them. So, let us assume I just finished one of my favorite regency romances. I would like to find a new book in a similar style. How can I find my next book?
To answer this question, I examined a number of book discovery platforms, rating them on a scale of one-to-five for my needs, one being workable at best and five being exactly what I want. The top ten are given with commentary in alphabetical order; those I did not like as much I simply rated.
(A caveat: many of these platforms have functionality other than recommending books, such as social networking. I am rating these based solely on the functionality, breadth, and usability of their book recommendation functions. Anything else was not be factored in.)But also, as I mentioned above, it really got me to think critically about how I pick books for myself. As I have mentioned on the blog before, applying new tools and idea to yourself and your own reading, is often the best way to see if you can help others using the same methods.
The author looked at over 20 platforms. She talks about what she found and why she preferred some over others. If nothing else, this post will give you new tools for yourself and your patrons to discover new books.
It is also always a good idea to break down your processes with patrons and think about them idependent of the person in front of you. We need to make sure our methods, that lay the foundation for our work, are sound. Thinking about them in terms of ourselves, the reader we know best, is a great way to evaluate our tools and processes.
So, how do I pick the books I want to read for myself. I think I have 2 main tools:
- Professional Reviews and Articles: Since I read, either in print or digitally, a professional review or book industry report daily, I am constantly scanning them both for collection development AND personal reading. When I see something that appeals to me personally I either put it on hold for myself or add it to my "planning to read" shelf on Shelfari.
- Word of Mouth: Still the most popular tool for our patrons, recommendations from others is a key way I identify books I want to read for myself as well. Talking to patrons and fellow library staff about books they have enjoyed, especially when it comes to backlist titles, is one of my favorite ways to find new reads. Many of the book recommendation engines that the article discusses are another way for people who are not around readers (I know I am lucky to be surrounded by them every day) to get a "word of mouth" experience.
For today's Monday Discussion, I ask you, the professional book suggester, to tell me how you suggest books for yourself.
For past Monday Discussions, click here.