By Hannah Johnson
Publishing Perspectives contributor and publisher of Open Letter Press, Chad W. Post, wrote a piece called “Reading in the Age of Screens” in which he discussed how book discovery works in the digital age. He asked how readers can find the “pattern-breaking” books, the truly revolutionary literature that is unlike anything they’ve read before, in an age when book discovery is based on algorithms that only recognize pattern. Even social networks, Post said, tend to reflect your own tastes (after all, your friends tastes aren’t likely to be too different from your own).
On the Three Percent blog, Post has continued this discussion in several parts. Here is a quick summary, but I’m no Chad Post, so you really should just read the original:
In Part III, he asks a group of students how they find new books (hint: book reviews don’t play a prominent role here). It could be that we all have to rely on serendipity to find the books we didn’t even know we wanted to read.
Part IV observes that even though so many more books are available online for immediate download, there is still a problem of discovery. You can download an obscure book, but how would you know to? The good news is that the Internet also allows direct interaction with customers, which means authors and publishers can help serendipity along.
In Part V, Post observes: “If you’re looking to find the thing to ‘blow your mind,’ you won’t be looking at the New York Times (were you ever?), but to the random blogger-personality who ‘gets’ you.”