Morning Links

I was drafting an article in response to one of our Morning Roundup articles (the one on the exaggerated death of the paperback), and I was looking for studies on e-book discovery to disprove one of the points in the article (that e-books aren’t discovered online).

Unfortunately, every study I found proved the point in the article. One study, by paidContent, was particularly damning. It showed that while book readers were active on the Internet, visiting sites like Pinterest and Goodreads regularly, those visits didn’t drive e-book purchases.

Drat! So much for that article idea.

There’s a chart in the article, which isn’t approved for reproduction, so I’m not going to display it here, but I idly browsed it to look at the breakdown. (By the way, according to that study, authors’ websites have the best conversion ratio. Authors: Give that some serious thought.)

And then I noticed something interesting. Library websites weren’t mentioned. I found a study from late last year showing that, at least among library e-book borrowers, the public library (including library websites) are a huge source of e-book discovery.

Hmm. Perhaps people are discovering books online, just not in the areas publishers want them to?

And then I noticed another glaring lapse: e-book readers themselves. I went back to look at my recent Kindle purchases. Except for authors I make a point of following, a good percentage of my recent purchases were discovered through my Kindle, either through ads or through browsing the store on my Kindle.

That made me wonder. Am I alone, or do a significant number of readers discover their new books directly from their e-readers? Anyone want to comment? Or point me to a study that discusses that method of discovery?


  1. OK, so, Owen suggests that publishers need to do more to protect physical bookstores, because physical bookstores are helpful to book discovery.

    Except…protect them from what? It seems to me if people weren’t discovering books online somehow, they wouldn’t be buying any of them online, and so there wouldn’t be anything to protect physical bookstores from.

    Obviously, people seem to be finding books online somehow.

  2. Libraries allow readers to try out books by unfamiliar authors, without risk. If the reader likes the “free” book from the library, he or she may go on to buy other books by that author.

    For the same reason I think that piracy is probably a huge engine of “discovery.” Of course, studying how piracy might allow readers to try new books by new authors would be really hard to do.

    For myself, I have yet to find a good way to discover new authors online.

    What I would like to see, but have been unable to find, is a web site that asks for a list of my 50 favorite authors, and then tries to match my list with other people’s lists. If someone else’s list of 50 favorite authors matches 49 of the names on my list, then I would be really, really interested to look at books written by the 50th author; possibly an author of whom I had previously been unaware.

    Unfortunately, all of the book recommendation sites that I have found online try to match book titles, one at a time, not authors. Recommendations such as “people who liked ‘A is for Apple’ also liked ‘C is for Cat'” do not work for me.

  3. “Am I alone, or do a significant number of readers discover their new books directly from their e-readers?”

    I doubt you’re alone, but I know I never shop that way.

    @Gary, not exactly what you’re asking for, but I’ve had some success by going to the pages for favorite authors on Fantastic Fiction and looking at the “Visitors to this page also looked at these authors” list at the bottom of the page. It’s not foolproof or anything, but I’ve found a lot of new authors to try that way and been pretty successful in finding some new favorites. It’s not my sole method of “discovery”, but it’s one of them.

  4. I mostly use a few web sites that have curated lists of new e-books. Recommendations from authors I like, (If I like their writing, I might like what they like to read.), on web sites that I read that are not primarily book sites. I check the Baen Books web site.

    I also listen to friends who have similar tastes in books and have found many a good read from panels at science fiction conventions. At one of the panels, the authors of a book were describing their new book. I used the Kindle to buy it while they spoke and after the panel told them I had. (Feedback is good. It encourages the authors to write more and come to more conventions.)

    I find far more to read than I have time to read and my e-readers are getting far too full with things to read.

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