I enjoyed reading Zoe Dattner's conference report a couple of weeks ago in Bookseller and Publisher magazine (now known as Books and Publishing, thanks!) Zoe was present at the eighth Tools of Change conference, convened recently in New York by O'Reilly Media.
While commenting on the depth and breadth of the US book market, she noted some things that she felt were pertinent to the Australian market, in particular the scope for greater support to book events from booksellers, and a better understanding in Australia of the potential of POD (print on demand).
At some length she reported on a session with GoodReads, discussing a survey of 1000 users they conducted recently (I would have loved to know if they have presented at TOC before).
For discovery, Twitter and Facebook score very low. Friends’ recommendations (word of mouth) is the highest. (It is not known, unfortunately, if the word of mouth people refer to comes from social media or person-to-person. My guess is that Twitter and Facebook are actually far more influential, but people consider this the same as word of mouth.) Following this, the best discovery comes from Goodreads itself, and then from media (presumably reviews and media discussion). Discovery via bookstore and the library ‘hold list’ is also very good. (A separate session that gave some fantastic data about libraries made the brilliant point that a library is really a showroom, and one that publishers and booksellers should advocate for.) On the question of why someone buys the book after hearing about it, the top answers were: friends telling you to buy it, general hype, and book clubs. Over 50% of readers said Goodreads reviews helped to convince readers to buy the book.
One of the most valuable points I took away from the Goodreads session was the statistic that 69% of people want to discuss the book with friends after they’ve read it, making me think how much better the industry could get at providing special deals on multiple copies (specifically ebooks) and that there should be better, and stronger, calls to action at the end of the book. Considering the technology available to us—particularly with ePub 3—the possibilities for a ‘What should I read next?’ page at the end of a book are vast.
A last interesting thought from this session was that 49% say they’d be interested in reading a book in serial form instead of waiting six months for the release, but only with an established author, or someone they like, not at all with an unknown author.
Zoe has kindly supplied the link to the keynote library session she mentions, 'The Library as Ebook Discovery Zone: More Lessons from *Library Journal's* Public Library Patron Research' delivered by Meredith Schwartz. A video link is supplied.