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What is the Future of “Social Bookselling”?

Do you only buy the books your friends suggest? Perhaps not.

By Edward Nawotka


It has long been a maxim in book marketing that “word-of-mouth” is the best. The same can be said for “handselling” in bookstores. So what happens when both move online? Book oriented social networking, nee bookselling, sites are proliferating. Copia and Bookish, in the US, and aNobii in the UK (as discussed in today’s feature story).

The goal of aNobii is to “intercept readers before they go to Amazon,” or so says CEO Matteo Berlucchi, the principle being that people you trust can recommend a book “better than any algorithm” can.

As bookselling begins to morph into this sophisticated and highly-networked form, will it work? Are the social aspects of book reading being overstated? Is taking recommendations strictly from your circle of friends putting yourself in too much of a silo? And what role can third-party authorities, such as booksellers and critics, play in this brave new world?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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  1. Posted May 19, 2011 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Traditionally publishers have been the taste “gatekeepers”, keeping the slush pile at bay. Now, in the Brave New Online World, someone else will have to act as gatekeepers.

    So welcome to aNobii, Bookish et al.! But neither publishers nor Amazon and other online bookstores should stand-by idly looking on: this is something important to jump into (and of the Big 6, at least 3 know this: vide Bookish!)

  2. Posted May 19, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Edward, one clarification on the way we think of recommendations: they generally come from people (or sources) you trust. They can include friends, celebrities, magazines you read and like, brands, etc. The key is the ‘connection’ between you (the reader) and the recommender. So, we are not going to silo the recommendations only to friends. It would indeed be too limited (I only rate the recommendations of a couple of my friends!)

  3. Posted May 20, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    A recent cull of my bookshelves suggests I buy just as many books that I heard about first on Twitter as I ever did because I heard about them from bookseller friends. What may have changed is the subject matter: I seem to have read (or at least started to read) more books outside my “comfort zone” since becoming active on Twitter than when relying on personal recommendations. Maybe this is because booksellers tend to suggest books on subjects they already know I’m interested in (or on subjects I say I’m into) while the swirl of conversation on Twitter throws up more surprises?

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