The Perfect Book for You

Recently, when Sarah B and I went to Nottingham for our Publisher for a Day kick off, there were tons of lovely enthusiastic readers. But there were also quite a few people who, upon hearing, “Free books!” called back, “I don’t read.”

Once I had stopped weeping, I realised that what they meant, for the most part, is, “I don’t read books.” But that is simply and only because they haven’t found the perfect book for them.

With over 150,000 books published in 2010 (according to the Publishers Association PDF), there is undoubtedly a book for everyone.

Any good children’s bookseller would be able to help you find yours, but it is unlikely that a reluctant or a flat-out-refusing reader would venture into a bookshop. It is also not the case, sadly, that everyone has access to a good children’s bookseller.

When we were thinking about our new list and how people were going to choose the best book for them, we thought about jackets, and titles, and descriptions and our ingredients… But what if all that still isn’t enough?

Since we are not yet at the stage where we have a live person for you to ask any time of day or night (but feel free to ask us in Twitter, a near-enough equivalent) we’ve come up with our book sorting feature.

The concept started out as sliders but we ended up with impossible arguments about whether a book like Constable & Toop was a little bit funny or a little bit sad, because we couldn’t have both.

After much agonising trying to squeeze the content of our first 17 books into a numerical designation in an Excel spreadsheet, we realised that it would be much easier to rank things in relation to each other.

You can click on whatever genre interests you and sort our books form most to least. So, clicking on “humorous” will get you our funniest books in the top left and our least funny in the bottom right. (You can scroll pages too.)

It still generates debate (and if you’ve ready lots of our books and want to weigh in on our scaling, please do!) but we love this little tool. What do you think? Has it helped you find one of our books that you didn’t know about?

It would be insane to try to do this with every book ever published, but we are planning to build this in for all our books from the beginning. If you are looking for a way to discover new books beyond our list, you might check out small demons. It links books together by places, objects, music references, sports teams, “books mentioned in other books”, etc. Very clickable, but sadly not focused enough on the young adult world.

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4 responses to “The Perfect Book for You

  1. I played with this when your website launched. I liked it.

  2. This is a really neat/delightful idea.

    Maybe I’m biased, but reading really is second to none when you account for efficiency, mobility, entertainment, and the ability to forget, just for a second, about everything going on in your life that may be less than pleasant.

    However, it can be daunting for someone who isn’t *in* on books already to breakthrough. I think more sellers/publishers could really learn from an idea like this, especially for children, where it’s just so, so important to introduce them to the magical world of books.

    • Thank you so much. What a lovely comment!

      One of the best things that happened at the as-mentioned Nottingham festival was getting out and talking to people face-to-face. Seeing the people who already love books, and talking to the people who may be a little shy about books. I think that’s a big way for publishers to take a further step in recruiting new readers — go where people go (like a music festival for teens) and show off the enthusiasm for reading that already exists. Authors are out on the road all the time, but we want to figure out a way where we can get out there and meet & greet and get people fired up about books.

      • Exactly! I think a lot of publishers/writing/etc forget that they are not only directly “competing” with one another, but also with reader’s time, especially children, who have many distractions. Work, school, chores, family, friends, video games, toys, movies, television, malls are all examples of this.

        It’s easy for children to not only miss out on books as recreational these days, but to also possibly have a bad taste in their mouths if the only ones who care about what they read or don’t read are schools. It can create an aura of “reading is schoolwork” in their mind if that is the case, and we all know how most children feel about schoolwork.

        Although, of course, it’s not entirely about competing with one another (and nor should it be!), but working together for a unified goal of not only bringing more people to books, but also meeting them halfway and bringing them books that are rich and vibrant and beautiful, and just for them. Any step in that direction is something I can support.

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