March 19, 2012

Discovering books on Goodreads


Last week Goodreads’ Otis Chandler wrote an article describing various ways in which books are discovered, both online and off.

For anyone unfamiliar with Goodreads, the site is a socially-oriented online neighborhood for authors and readers. It specializes in recommendations, reviews, promotional items, and for the most part does a terrific job keeping readers aware of new (and older) titles:

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!”

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.

Assuming the majority of MobyLives readers do in fact know Goodreads, it’s important to note that Chandler’s article, published first on the Goodreads blog and subsequently on Publishing Perspectives, explains how being discovered in a marketplace already crowded with books is about understanding the reader, and in turn analyzing how that reader discovers future titles:


Of course, people come to books in all sorts of personal, offline ways — for example, a friend recently got re-interested in Simenon while researching fingerprints after his home was burgled.

Nonetheless, Chandler should be commended for sharing so many insightful, digitally inclined details. They  very well may command how publishers put forward their newest titles.


Kevin Murphy is the digital media marketing manager of Melville House.