Thursday, June 2, 2022

Is Book Discovery A Compromised Process?


Are there too many books to read — or do we lack a better system to figure out what we should be reading?  

Either way, it is getting harder for most people to actually discover the best books when so many mediocre or downright bad books clutter the marketplace.

Something needs to be done about this.

I have seen numerous reports that say over 5,000 new books are published in America daily. It is even possible that it is an undercount. In any event, our country publishes more books in a day than 99 percent of the most voracious readers can get to in a lifetime.

Think about that.

If a person reads a book every three and a half days — no easy feat — that would be 1,000 books every decade — or 5,000 books after 50 years of dedicated reading at a very busy pace.

We know there are vastly more books in print than in any time in history, and that each year we seem to break the record for the number of books published. Further, we know we can’t get to every book nor even have the time to read just the title and subtitle of all of the published books. So, how is a society to find out which books exist, what they are about, who wrote them, and whether they are very good books, and find what is in the top tier of their genre and of all books?

Right now we have a very imperfect system, relying randomly on things that are biased or with a conflict of interest. Take a look at how books are discovered today:

Professional Book Reviews — Everyone wants to be reviewed by leading newspapers, magazines, websites, and blogs. However, it doesn’t just happen by itself. One needs to have time and money to send advance review copies to the media. This is called access bias. Factors indicating whether you get a review involves: timing, knowing to whom and when and where to submit, working around limited book review space; bias selection by the media on what to read, and bias in how they review a book.

Paid Book Reviews — Paying for a review used to undermine the integrity of that review but it is all out in the open now. Still, if you can’t afford to pay, you don’t get to play. Further, there is bias in how a book is reviewed.

Customer Reviews  — We can’t trust the motives or qualifications or inherent biases of any consumer reviewer. 

Authority Lists --  Many self-declared authorities boldly make lists: best holiday gift; best summer read; top-ten lists. We see librarians, non-profit organizations, magazines, websites, book stores, newspapers, and others making these pronouncements, but what are they really based on?

Awards — Who applies, who can afford entrance fees, and the ability or training of judges will influence the value of the award.

Contests — Like book awards, we need to point out people can’t win a contest unless they know to apply — and can afford entrance fees. Those who judge the contests have biases, limited training, and limited time to put into it. 

Influencers —You have to identify who has a big or targeted following and see if they will allow you to pay them to post about your book. So if you don’t know whom to approach, can’t afford to pay, or they are biased against your book, you won’t get a boost from the Internet gatekeepers.

Best-Seller Lists — These lists can be manipulated in a number of ways by deep-pocketed authors. Further, some lists, like amazon, are easy to hit with a targeted effort to sell fewer than 75 books in a specific one-hour time period. The term best-seller is neither a legal nor consistently used term, nor is there always third-party validation to prove one hit a best-seller list. Even if a list is legit and the book made it on organically, it should not be assumed that the book is necessarily very good nor that it sold a lot of books.

Bookshelf Space — Bookstores make decisions based on a variety of factors and limited awareness of available books. Their shelf space may allow for a few thousand titles to be sold, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands — but out of tens of millions of available titles, most books are not available in all or any bookstores.  

Give Aways — The more books you give away, the better the chance of getting reviews, word-of-mouth, and social media posts about your book. Some giveaways cost money — such as with Goodreads and Librarything. Physical giveaways cost on print and shipping but ebooks could be free.  

Price Specials — If you can afford to discount your book, you will get more sales, and increase your chances of getting more customer reviews and word-of-mouth praise.  

Events/Fairs/Conferences — If you know which ones to attend — and have the time and money to spend — you can get a booth to sell your book.  

Advertising — Only those who can afford ads will be able to advertise a book, and of course, such ads can be misleading and biased. Or, the ad simply may be better than the book.   

There are still many issues surrounding today’s book recommendation and discovery process. What gets missed, unranked, not reviewed, and not talked about? Which books do or don’t have a publicist and marketing muscle behind it? Which books become popular and get referenced socially? Is there a government agency, business, or a non-profit that could level and organize the playing field of book discovery?  

Of course, we need to work with the system that is in place, but while we do that, we should have an eye on how to improve things.  


Please Contact Me For Help

Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has 30 years of experience in successfully helping thousands of authors in all genres.


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This blog, with over 4,000 posts over the past decade, was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult: 


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