Thursday, April 11, 2013

Readers want to talk

 Last week I wrote about the GoodReads survey results that showed how important social factors are in connecting readers to books.  Today I want to highlight what the survey said about the post-reading experience.
Books are one of the strongest social objects that exist.

From our earliest days, humans have always connected over stories. We see remnants of those tales in cave paintings dating back 40,000 years. The power of a story—and the desire to share and talk about that story—lives on today, even in a world turned increasingly digital. In fact, if you look at the [survey results] several of the top answers (Everyone Talking About It, Book Club, On "Best" Lists) all go back to one powerful need: wanting to be connected with our "tribe" through stories.
 That quote from the GoodReads Blog has an obvious resonance with Christians who deeply understand their connection to one another through the the story of God's redeeming love.  Each week we gather to connect with one another, and celebrate our connection to the author of the story.

It shouldn't be surprising then to learn that the GoodReads survey reported that when they get to the end of a book:
  • 87% of readers said they wanted to see more by the same author
  • 75% wanted to see similar content
  • 69% wanted to discuss the book with friends and
  • 35% said they read reviews to learn what others thought about the book.
For the church librarian, these results suggest two things. For one, they indicate why series and genre fiction is so popular. More importantly, these comments as well as the ones reported earlier about the importance of personal recommendation, show that reading is a social experience.  We may read on our own but the pre- and post-reading experience is rooted in connection to others.  I think that means that church libraries should be social places.  Often they are book warehouses or book closets, but a vital library should have social space to foster discussion about the contents of the library and the experiences they create in the heart and mind of readers.

Read more about the GoodReads survey here.

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