Thursday, April 4, 2013

Trusted Friend Is Top Book Discovery Tool

"Hey, I've got a book that I know you're going to enjoy!"  A GoodReads survey says that's an offer that can't be refused

GoodReads asked 2000 readers how they discovered a particular book, what convinced them to read it and what they did after reading it.

Their results suggests that social factors play an important role in influencing what people read.  "Friends' recommendations" were cited as the most common way (up to 40%) that readers heard about the two particular titles used in the survey.  Social factors including trusted friends, "everyone's talking about it" and book clubs were given as the reason that approximately half of the readers actually read the book. 

The GoodReads survey further confirms the value of person-to-person recommendations when it looks at other ways that readers connected to the two books used for the survey. Reviews, awards and "best" lists were cited by only a quarter of the readers as a factor that lead them to read a book.  As for the good old book display, the survey showed that actual encounters with the book-  looking at the cover,  reading the blurb or a sampling a few pages -  influenced another 25%. 

To me, the survey suggests the important role of the church librarian as "book-recommender." Not unlike a salesperson (or an evangelist) the librarian needs to know both the collection and know the patrons and take an active role in connecting the two.  Book displays are fine and so is promotion of  church library resources in the bulletin. But the GoodReads survey suggests that face-to-face promotion is key in getting books read.

It's important to note that the survey suggests that in order to be an effective book-recommender you need to be seen as a "trusted friend."  For some of us "bookish types" that may mean actually talking to people, smiling at them, being friendly - or making sure somebody on the library team can fill that role. It may mean reviewing the collection, asking "who is this for?" and then making an introduction.  It could be the start of something beautiful.

Read more about the GoodReads survey here

In the next post I'll discuss what the GoodReads survey said about the post-reading experience and what it may mean for church libraries.

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