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S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Goodreads Meets Netflix

It appears that Goodreads will now make book recommendations (based on your previous ratings and selected genres), much like Netflix. Goodreads doesn't (apparently) pull in other reader's interests, but can a "friends also read" category much like Amazon's "customers also bought" be far behind?

Which brings me to the topic of "How do you find your next book?"

If you're like me, you have a TBR list a mile long and I could pull books from there for the rest of my life. But that doesn't always determine what I read next. Laura Pauling had a good post about picking books from the "slush pile" to read, and I have to admit that the last few books I bought/selected to read weren't from my TBR but ones where 1) the authors were coming to town for a signing (The Familiars, Book 2 Secrets of the Crown), 2) it was a sequel I wanted to read (Hunchback Series, Book 3), or 3) another sequel that I still have a signed copy on order (Goliath).

Those are firmly in the "author reputation" column, but I also buy books based on personal recommendations, price, and occasionally cover.

According to Kathryn Rusch, people buy books because:

1. Author reputation (52%)
2. Personal recommendation (49%)
3. Price (45%)
4. Book Reviews (37%)
5. Cover/Blurb (22%)
6. Advertising (including online) 14%

Now that I've hopelessly muddled the data by pre-feeding you answers, how did YOU decide to buy your last three books? (I tried to make a form, but it's clearly too early in the morning for my brain to figure that out!)

p.s. Thursday is author blog hop day with my publisher, Omnific Publishing. Join the hop or link along ...


  1. The current book I'm reading was a gift. Before that, they were both, first and foremost, from my favourite current publisher, the New York Review of Books. In one case, the book just looked interesting, and it han an incredible cover, to boot. The second looked great, had a great cover, but mostly I'd read (and loved) the author (Vasily Grossman) before.

    So gift (which is a personal recommendation, of a sort), publisher, story idea, cover, and author.

  2. I'm currently reading "Cutting for Stone" off a recommendation from a family member.

    Prior to that I read "Monarch" because of the author's reputation (and a personal cyber-relationship).

    Three books ago it was "The King of Lies" off a recommendation from a different family member (two of them, actually).

  3. Tack genre onto there, and Kathryn Rusch has my algorithm down perfectly.

  4. The last book I read was based on Author reputation--otherwise, it's always Personal recommendation.

    I find it noteworthy that none of that list includes Publisher! Just emphasizes how little readers care about who published the book!

  5. ...except, for Bryan Russel--he cares about the Publisher! :)

  6. I'm currently reading Across the Universe which I bought when I did partially because I'd been meaning to read it and partially because it was the last one at Borders (before they closed their doors for good).

    Before that I read The Fire in Fiction, which I picked up largely because of Donald Maass' good reputation and the things I'd heard about the book.

    Finally before that one, I read Divergent. Interestingly, that was the first book ad I ever clicked on (months before it came out) and I was immediately interested--the cover, the premise--it looked right up my alley. So when it finally came out, I read a few chapters and was instantly hooked.

    So for me, my last three books were based off cover (I picked up AtU originally because the cover looked interesting), author and promotion.

  7. @Ava You just reminded me, I need to get AtU back from the person I lent it to! And you guys are giving me great answers...I think I'll have to do a summary when this is all done! :)

  8. I recently bought Another Life by Michael Korda because I was reading a blog post with an excerpt and was hooked. Then I bought another book similar because when I posted my review there were reviews about this other book saying it was even better. So that was all online information that convinced me to buy 2 books which I then proceeded to purchase online.

  9. The last 3 books I bought were at a book festival and the authors were there to sign.

    Usually, I hear about a book somewhere on the internet. Whether it's a blog post, a list on Goodreads (usually browsing random lists there), or some other site. But there what always sells me to the point that I add it to my to-purchase list is the blurb. If I can't find a blurb on the first site, I head to Amazon to read the info there.

  10. when i used to listen to many books on tape, it was all jacket copy (i.e., does it sound interesting?)...

    In terms of purchasing, author name is definitely up there (in conjunction w/ previous appreciation of author's works).

  11. I read a lot of books for review. I also have a lot of series favorites (but I'm shamefully behind). And I'm hugely influenced by this online community. :-)

  12. I get my list from amazon and from all the blogs I read which often list books the bloggers have liked. I click and if it sounds good it gets added to my list. Then of course there's all the authors I love whose next book I'm waiting for. I'm currently bookless but my library called yesterday and has my next request in. yay!

  13. I usually read books on personal recommendation from a friend with similar tastes. However, I have been known to raid a Border's when they are closing a store and buy everything in sight TBR later. This is how I discovered Familiars, which is delightful and fun to read. Can't wait for the sequel.

  14. I lean more towards personal recommendations than anything.

    I give some credence to reviews but I know there is subjectivity.

    Occasionally, I'll get a wild hair and buy a book for other reasons:

    I just bought SOLSTICE for two reasons. I think the author is awesome and the subject matter intrigued me.

    I bought FIRST BITE: THE WICKED QUEEN'S TALE for price and because I thought it would be interesting to see this story through the queen's eyes.

  15. Like this question and seeing how people answer.

    1. PERFECT by Ellen Hopkins as I am a fan and it has juts been released (her bets so far, I think!).

    2. SOLD by Patty McCormick as I was going to listen to a teleseminar by her and wanted to post intelligent questions beforehand.

    2 am reading BRIAN'S WINTER by Gary Paulsen, because of things he said at the LA SCBWI conference.

  16. I have so many author friends on Twitter that I tend to read what they've come out with!

  17. I'm currently reading two books, one caught my interest when I was looking at the publisher's website and the other I bought during an author mix 'n mingle at a conference.

    I do check out books that friends recommend and the last book I bought (not including what I bought at the conference) happened to be a signed copy of a book I'd been hearing about on FB.

  18. Right now, I'm reading two books by authors I will meet at a writing conference. One author I've read before, and the other is new. They were not in my TBR stack.
    (one of the books is D. Gabaldon's 'Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade')

    I'm not on Goodreads, because I don't like systems recommending my reading to me. Blogs or articles recommending books, yes, but for me, Goodreads doesn't appeal.

    My reading selections are eclectic, and I sometimes read by author only (everything by that author). Amazon reviews I don't read, but I might read a newspaper review.

    The author's writing and the topic are what hooks me. That means shopping indie stores, and even the big box stores so I get to read that back blurb or overleaf. I only order online if I can't get the book in a local store.

    Pre-planned book selection is fine if you like it, I don't.

  19. I LOVE the Goodreads recommendation system. I think it does draw on how other people have tagged/shelved their books, though. But so far it works so much better than any other recommendation system I've ever seen.

    I read books based on
    Author Reputation (I've Read Them)
    Author Reputation (I've Not Read Them) / Professional Reviews

    Recommendations from my friends rarely catch my attention, because I'm stubborn about social pressure.

  20. Lately I've been reading almost exclusively books by people I "know." Other than that it's mostly reputation, or genre. For example I've read some George Martin lately because Ted and Bryan told me they loved it.

  21. The book I'm reading right now I won in an online contest. The book before that was a writer from New England and I loved the cover, so i bought it for my Kindle.

  22. The book I just finished was complimentary in return for a review. A self-pubbed debut author, I'm quite impressed with his novel and I'm going to it 5 stars and am looking forward to the sequel. Other books are some I bought months ago, and they patiently waited for me. I expecting 4 books in the mail that I won in blog giveaways, and I'm super excited to read them. Like as soon as they arrive! Fun post, Susan.

  23. My last three purchases: Breaking Point is by an author with the same publisher as me. I like to support writers I know. I bought Le Morte d'Arthur because I couldn't find my old copy. That's for research. Book 3 and 4 were a single purchase. The Sky is Everywhere and Abandon, bought were recommended by bloggers.

    I read whatever takes my fancy at the time and find books through friends, reviews, goodreads, browsing the bookshop. I don't stick to one way.

  24. A combination of Goodreads, book clubs, and the genre I write influence my next reading choice. I just finished "Extreme Exposure" by Pamela Clare and loved it after hearing about it first on Goodreads. My current book clubs are reading books I've already read ("Mr. Perfect" and "The Help") but typically they have a big influence over my choice. And the reason I read "Extreme Exposure" and "Mr. Perfect" are that they are romantic suspense novels, the genre of my series. It's funny that I wrote two romantic suspense novels before having read many novels in the genre, and now I'm trying to catch up.

  25. I'm drowning in books, though I have to admit the only thing better would be drowning in chocolate.

  26. YAY FOR GOODREADS! Or yay for me, thanks to goodreads. =)

    I choose books almost 100% based off of word of mouth. Granted, I have picked up a few merely because of availability--but I will ALWAYS finish a book that was recommended (and never ones with less than 3.5 Amazon stars). Books I randomly grab off a shelf? They've got a one line to three chapters for a hook. In the last two months only one has failed the test.

  27. My last three books were chosen based on friend recommendations! Honestly I think that's how I choose them all. But a nice cover will sometimes make me buy something. LOL! :D

  28. Last three books?

    Picked "Spindle's End" because I absolutely adored the last two Robin McKinley books I read, and I needed some more of her.

    Picked Divergent because of all the buzz around the blogs.

    Picked the Opposite of Art because Athol Dickinson writes blog posts that always make me think and see things in some new light, so I'm hoping his book will too (he blogs at Novel Rocket).

    I also pick books to help debut authors, esp. bloggers I know, and based on recommendations or goodreads reviews that really resonated with me. So far, Goodreads automatically generated recommendations haven't stirred me, though ;) ... we'll see!

  29. Interesting info as always. I got an e-mail from Goodreads telling me to rate more books so they can figure out what I like, hehe.

    Let's see, last three reads---two were because the authors asked me to pre-read and one was because it was the final book in a series my daughter also read and loved.

  30. I'm reading THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO right now because it was recommended to me by the agent who critiqued my MS. I am LOVING it. Lately, I've been adding to my TBR list from recs on blogs.

  31. Lately I've been using the "Customers Who Bought This Also Bought..." feature at Amazon to shop for books. I look on the pages of my favorite authors, see what catches my attention, and then download the sample pages. I don't always end up buying, but I've found a number of new authors this way. :)

  32. Book recommendations and author reputation are two ways I've chosen my latest read books. Reading so many writer/reader blogs helps because when multiple people gush about the same book, I know it's worth reading.

  33. I can't really fight Rusch's idea. I would add "subject" on there, though. The book I most recently purchased, HANNIBAL, was primarily because I wanted to read up on that historical figure. That the copy was discounted and that it reviewed reasonably only helped me narrow down which book about the man I bought.

    Terry Eagleton's A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION: THE MEANING OF LIFE, I sought out primarily because of Eagleton's recent weighing-in on religious debates. You could say that's Author Reputation, though rather than reputation, I was going by things he'd recently written in the press.

    James Patrick Kelly's BURN I picked up without hesitation since it was free and he's an award-winning author. Those plug into the scheme quite nicely. I'd actually had a physical copy before, but lent it before I read it - which I regret. When I saw that Kelly put it up in podcast form for free, I figured that'd be a nice fix.