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This blog has some interesting information on the struggle publishers face (that be us, too) having their books "discovered," particularly as more and more books vie for reader attention. Seems books are still often bought online after a reader has "found" it in a bricks and mortar store. Not sure I agree with this, but that's a gut feel rather than here-be-the-numbers argument.

http://paidcontent.org/2013/01/17/why-online-book-discovery-is-broken-and-how-to-fix-it/
 

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I have a couple of avid-reader friends who just got e-readers.

Both could go to a bookshop, browse, and leave happy with stacks of books.

Online, however, they're frustrated by the shopping experience. I'm like, "You and me both, baby."
 

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DarkScribe said:
It has already happened. Started more then three years ago.
It's not something you walk into every indie store and find. That's what it needs to become.

That and book machines being typical equipment.
 

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I read this article a few days ago, and had a number of thoughts.

1. Going by *their own numbers*, their numbers are wrong. The article states "Sixty-one percent of book purchases by frequent book buyers take place online, but only seven percent of those buyers said they discovered that book online." However, the accompanying graphic shows that 14.4% of book discovery takes place online.

2. That 14.4% number is quite close to the purported 20% that discover a book in physical bookstores. Which changes the whole complexion of the article and the conclusions drawn - but I guess that doesn't fit the agenda.

3. Very little information is given on the methodology of this survey (which makes me automatically skeptical), but it's clear from the graphic that the discovery metric is for the last book readers bought, and the survey was taken in December. Given the time of year, an unusual number of book buyers will be both frequenting physical stores and buying physical products (which often make better gifts). This will *massively* skew the results.

The guys running this survey clearly didn't take the latter point into consideration when drawing their conclusions, and I have zero confidence in their ability to compile data accurately or analyze it correctly.
 
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dgaughran said:
2. That 14.4% number is quite close to the purported 20% that discover a book in physical bookstores. Which changes the whole complexion of the article and the conclusions drawn - but I guess that doesn't fit the agenda.
Many of my readers discover me online, but they don't discover me through the methods that most indies employ. They find me through genre-specific sites either because I'm advertising there or because someone mentioned my book there. I think that is where the disconnect is for a lot of people. The internet is a HUGE monster of a place, but indies tend to only stay in the safe zones (i.e. the freebie sites or the kindle-only sites or the writer sites).

Customer decision behavior hasn't changed, but the location has. People still employ word of mouth, but that word of mouth now happens in closed communities dedicate to a specific subject. People still use third party reviews, but they read those reviews on the online version of the newspaper instead of the print version. A person who discovers a new book through a NYT book review is technically discovering the book "online" after all, but this isn't the sort of online discover most indies think of when we have this discussion.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
Many of my readers discover me online, but they don't discover me through the methods that most indies employ. They find me through genre-specific sites either because I'm advertising there or because someone mentioned my book there. I think that is where the disconnect is for a lot of people. The internet is a HUGE monster of a place, but indies tend to only stay in the safe zones (i.e. the freebie sites or the kindle-only sites or the writer sites).

Customer decision behavior hasn't changed, but the location has. People still employ word of mouth, but that word of mouth now happens in closed communities dedicate to a specific subject. People still use third party reviews, but they read those reviews on the online version of the newspaper instead of the print version. A person who discovers a new book through a NYT book review is technically discovering the book "online" after all, but this isn't the sort of online discover most indies think of when we have this discussion.
I get reader mail of how people discover my books all the time. We, authors, need to branch out. I write articles and twitter on the paranormal, (last one on how plasma, the fourth state of matter may explain the supernatural), on modern day angel appearances, on teens and self-esteem issues, on the War of 1812, and just lately mentioned regency style fashion during the War of 1812.
Each of these small bread crumbs has led to readers discovering my books.
Not a one of them was about my books.
Not all readers frequent book sites.
 

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The other day, I was trying to find something to watch on Netflix, and I seriously couldn't find anything, and I gave up. And I remembered that when I used to go to a video store to pick something out to watch, I had much less trouble than I currently do.

And then I found this article in The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/27/your-money/27shortcuts.html?_r=0

There is a famous jam study. ...

In a California gourmet market, Professor Iyengar and her research assistants set up a booth of samples of Wilkin & Sons jams. Every few hours, they switched from offering a selection of 24 jams to a group of six jams. On average, customers tasted two jams, regardless of the size of the assortment, and each one received a coupon good for $1 off one Wilkin & Sons jam.

Here's the interesting part. Sixty percent of customers were drawn to the large assortment, while only 40 percent stopped by the small one. But 30 percent of the people who had sampled from the small assortment decided to buy jam, while only 3 percent of those confronted with the two dozen jams purchased a jar.

That study "raised the hypothesis that the presence of choice might be appealing as a theory," Professor Iyengar said last year, "but in reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating."
So, anyway, I think that's the problem with buying online. Too many choices make you, like, not want to buy anything. The article goes on to talk about informed vs. uninformed choices, but I think that's the rub with books. It takes a lot of time to really inspect a book and see if you'll like it. You don't have time to inspect them all. Therefore, there are books out there that you want to read and would love, but you will NEVER find. That sucks. I wonder if someone will fix that someday. I wonder if it's even possible.
 

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If I judge by reader interaction, nearly everyone buys my work (excluding when it's on sale, since the bargain hunters buy it, but never email me) because someone else told them to buy it. It's rather odd.

"My friend posted about your book on Facebook..."
"My husband heard about your book and bought it for me..."
"My coworker was reading out segments from your book..."

I clearly need to find more chatty people to like my book and tell their friends about it. Hmm...I wonder if I can outsource that?
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
Many of my readers discover me online, but they don't discover me through the methods that most indies employ. They find me through genre-specific sites either because I'm advertising there or because someone mentioned my book there. I think that is where the disconnect is for a lot of people. The internet is a HUGE monster of a place, but indies tend to only stay in the safe zones (i.e. the freebie sites or the kindle-only sites or the writer sites).

Customer decision behavior hasn't changed, but the location has. People still employ word of mouth, but that word of mouth now happens in closed communities dedicate to a specific subject. People still use third party reviews, but they read those reviews on the online version of the newspaper instead of the print version. A person who discovers a new book through a NYT book review is technically discovering the book "online" after all, but this isn't the sort of online discover most indies think of when we have this discussion.
This is exactly what I've been thinking about lately. Discovering an undiscovered book on the "usual" sites these days is like looking for a needle in a haystack...and not knowing it's there in the first place. I've been trying to find more of those niches. My novel is YA...scifi fantasy. So I've been trying to go to hipper places to get myself known (and hopefully, through that, my book) but it's tough going. It kills me that I've got plenty of great reviews, but most have come from directly shoving the book in someone's line of site (giveaways, NY comic con, freebies, friend of a friend.) I have my second in the series coming out in the next two months, and I hope that helps, but I'm planning on redoing my first book's blurb at the same time. I need to hit the "geeky scifi fantasy girl teen/early twenties audience", so I really need to buckle down and find more of those closed communities you're talking about, Julie. My reviews tell me that readers can appreciate exactly what I want them to in my novel....I just need more "thems" to appreciate it! Ha!
 

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It is an interesting discussion, but the survey in the article seems a little lackluster to me. Discoverability is a very large topic and setting it up in the blocks from the survey doesn't convey a full image of online discoverability for books.

First off it does not fully list the sources in its categories "Social sharing sites like Pinterest, Fancy, Pinstyle etc." What does etc. encompass? Along with not general news sites, review sites and sites like Reddit (Maybe included in etc. but what do I know)

Then there is Gaughran's note of the percentages, and that is not exactly a testament to the credibility of the article.

If we work from the 14,4% in the survey, then we still have to include the online media not included in the survey before we get a complete image, and these media do in my opinion represent a rather big chunk of the online discoverability for books.

So all in all, I have little faith in the numbers presented here, and I will continue to go with my gut feeling, which says that online is a pretty good place to focus my marketing.
 

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I agree that we have too many choices in many areas today. I was thinking of writing a blog post on the topic and took this picture to illustrate it:

Never got around to writing the post...too many other choice of topics, I guess. :)

But, speaking as a reader, I love the wider choice in ebooks. I can happily spend hours browsing the also boughts, just as I once browsed the library and bookstore for hours. The difference is that now I have new authors to pick from, something that always was in short supply, especially on the bookstore shelves where big names dominated. So nice to see new titles and authors.
 

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Dalya said:
I have a couple of avid-reader friends who just got e-readers.

Both could go to a bookshop, browse, and leave happy with stacks of books.

Online, however, they're frustrated by the shopping experience. I'm like, "You and me both, baby."
Your friends don't think that the 'also-boughts' of the books that they love are interesting?
 
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