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Notes from the GoodReads Panel at BEA 12

June 4, 2012

More on the GoodReads panel:

The goal is to get reviews early in the life of the book, whether that’s advance reviews, or reviews posted just as a book is published. Authors should be active members of the site, discussing books they like as well as their own books, and reaching out to readers. (I can confirm that this is a great thing- I have a permanent soft spot for David Liss, after he complimented me on my review of The Twelfth Enchantment on GoodReads.)

Mobile and interactive games are big on GoodReads, to engage readers. Polls, too.  Also, video chats are good author events, because they get readers involved and interested in realtime, and also as videos to be watched later. Putting an excerpt or sample of the book on the GoodReads page is a good idea, because it works as a call to action. “Start reading, now!” Another good call to action is the book giveaway contest… inviting readers to try to win a book is a better call to action than asking them to buy.

GoodReads doesn’t provide data on whether/how people buy books, but it does show what shelf they put a book on, measuring their interest in the book or the topic. (And how they think about a book.)

For authors: GoodReads allows them to connect and talk with readers, and host giveaways. An average of 850 entries per book-giveaway contest. Brown and Barmash recommend that authors join book groups to talk about books they like to read, as well as talking about their own books. Virtual author tours and panel discussions hosted on GoodReads are great ways to do outreach as well.

Neat thought on book clubs: Instead of having everyone read one mutually-agreed-on book simultaneously, a read-a-thon, or a themed free-choice reading gets the discussion going. So, a short story club, where each person chooses one to read, and they discuss. Or a reading challenge, talking about the number of books read, as well as the topic and content.  Book clubs on GoodReads drive up interest in backlist books, and keep them popular.

For libraries:

“Librarians must be willing to encourage participation from all readers, new, existing, inactive and unfamiliar, in order to provide a wider variety of experience for readers,” – a librarian at the Salt Liake City library. All of the potential for virtual book groups, and for hosting virtual events, or videotaping live events, and then posting them to GoodReads and their websites.

On the future of books and readers in this charged and crazy digital climate, Patrick Brown had this to say: “I’ve never been the least bit afraid people wouldn’t read. I’ve been afraid publishing wouldn’t last, though.”

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