Goodreads’ CEO on Winning the Battle of Book Discovery – Publishing Perspectives – Otis Chandler (guest contributor, CEO)
We’ve all known for a while that the most valuable commodity for the sustained promotion of a book is word-of-mouth buzz. Goodreads was founded on the belief that a recommendation from a friend is the best way to find a book, more powerful than a glowing review in the New York Times or a mention on a TV show. There’s something about that trusted friend handing you the book and saying, “You must read this!”
And it has worked. According to a recent survey of Goodreads members, 79% of them report discovering books from friends offline, and 64% find books from their Goodreads friends.
Interestingly, the power of a friend’s recommendation has grown. Today, the recommendation doesn’t even have to be explicit, it can be as simple as seeing a friend reading a book. When you see what a friend is reading – whether on Goodreads, through an update on our Facebook Timeline app, or in person – it automatically triggers your interest. It becomes a new form of a recommendation, social validation.
Chandler breaks down the “evolving nature of book discovery” through five key points:
- word of mouth (quoted above)
- pre-launch buzz (authors providing readers with ARCs to write the first crucial reviews before publication)
- authors “need a tribe” (readers have stated they’ll read a book by an author they love)
- videos & book tours (video chats with authors)
- reader needs to see the book several times before reading it