This post, by M. Louisa Locke, originally appeared on her site on 11/5/13.
I have spent an enormous amount of time on this blog giving advice to authors on how they can get their books discovered by readers. But the other day, as I read a post by Mike Shatzkin entitled Finding your next book, or the discovery problem and fumed over his statement that looking for books online is more difficult than it is in a bookstore, I had an epiphany. If this man, who spends his life giving publishers advice on how to sell their books, doesn’t know some of the fundamentals of how readers can find books in an online bookstore, why am I assuming that the average reader has any better understanding of how to discover books in the Amazon Kindle Store? Maybe I have been preaching to the wrong group. Maybe, I should be directing my advice to readers, not just writers.
Even though research suggests that nearly half of all books (print, ebook, audiobooks) are bought online, the process of browsing in an online store is still new for most of us and it can be confusing. Except for the very young, most people who buy books are familiar with how to find them in physical bookstores. So I will begin by describing the experience of browsing in a brick and mortar bookstore—say my local Barnes and Noble––and then I will compare that to the experience of shopping online in the Kindle store.
In the process I will demonstrate that all the methods of finding books to read in a physical bookstore (staff recommendations, display tables, and shelves of books organized by broad categories) exist in the online Kindle store. However, in the Kindle store there are a variety of additional methods of finding a new book to read that don’t exist in physical stores, providing the potential for a shopping experience that can be much faster and more productive.
Not surprisingly, for the authors of books, understanding the different methods of discovering books in the Kindle store is the first step to figuring out how best to make sure their books will be discovered by these methods––which is what I will address in Readers to Books/Books to Readers––Part Two.
I will be focusing on browsing (rather than on looking for a specific title or author in either kind of store since this is an entirely different matter and much easier to do.)
Finding books in a physical bookstore:
Click here to read the rest of the post on M. Louisa Locke’s site, and also see the second installment: Readers to Books/Books to Reader–Part Two: How to Sell Books in the Kindle Store with the Search Bar.