What Goodreads is good for is keeping your own list of books you want to read or have read this year. It’s a list-making app. And while that’s useful, it doesn’t live up to the company’s full promise of being a haven for readers. Readers and authors deserve a better online community. And while Amazon has at least some nominal interest in improving many of its other products — Alexa, for example, becomes more advanced with each passing year — Goodreads lingers in the dustbin of the early aughts, doomed to the hideous beige design and uninspiring organization of a strip mall doctor’s office.
Here’s an idea about how to bring more people to your local book festival and how to get them to buy something:
Few people are happy with how books are sold at literary festivals. New York City publishers think festivals don’t move books at volume. PW reported that attendees at this year’s BookCon were unsatisfied with aspects of the event. “There’s hardly any ARC drops or free books,” one BookCon attendee said. “It felt a lot like we paid for a ticket just to be allowed in to buy things,” said another.
But that’s not the case in Portland, Ore., where book vouchers power a high volume of book sales at the 10,000-person, one-day Portland Book Festival held each November. A $5 voucher is rolled into the cost of a festival ticket. Admission is cheap at $15 for preorders and $20 at the door. With vouchers for all paid ticketholders, festivalgoers get up to one-third of their entry fees back to spend with vendors at the festival, including booksellers at the nine event locations and small- and midsize presses that exhibit their wares on the expo floor.
The latest trend in online marketing is building a “personal relationship” with customers and readers. Sending newsy emails about your fab summer vacation isn’t enough anymore. Now you have to ask them about their fab summer vacations.
This is supposed to let readers know you really care about them.
Speaking as a reader, that would be a…not so much.
I read lots of books. Do I want all those authors clogging my inbox, trying to be my BFF? Nope. Not even if it’s Margaret Atwood. If she really cares about me, she’ll write another book, not have a virtual assistant send me a faux-friendly email.
As an author, it all makes me want to cry. How can a working author find time to be pen pals with thousands of readers—even with robotic help?