Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Book Recommendations

Some Thoughts on Reading and Social/Technological Change

There is no doubt that the last two decades have seen some remarkable changes in how reading can be done; and, folks seem to want to draw broad generalizations and cite suspicious surveys and “studies” to support some fairly radical ideas about what all us readers are doing… 

Modern Reading

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There was an article on Digital Book World a few months ago that related some common (but possibly false) reflections on readers—it’s title is How Are Books Changing?

Here are some of the comments I can’t agree with completely:

“The act of reading for pleasure is often considered just another activity—and perhaps a boring one at that—up there with watching a TV show, listening to a podcast or sending endless texts.”

“It’s clear that reading does not hold the overall importance in today’s society that it did for previous generations.”

“…for many, the way we’re reading books has undeniably changed…”

And, one comment in particular seems to me to need some deep fact-checking:

“Not as many people read as before, and for many people who do in fact read, they have neither the desire nor the time to read something lengthy, or to waste any time reading a book they may ultimately put down unfinished.”

The only other thing I’ll say about that article is that a number of the comments folks left are illuminating

Since I’ve been spending so much time over on Wattpad, I wonder if folks like the author of that article are paying attention to the Wattpad phenomenon

Here are a few stats:

“Wattpad’s monthly audience is 45 million.”

“The Wattpad community collectively spends an incredible 15 billion minutes each month using Wattpad.”

“There have been over 200 million story uploads.”

“Wattpad is available in over 50 languages.”

By the way, that 15 billion minutes/month of use equals 250 million hours; and, that’s about 8 million hours per day

So, that’s at least one place there’s a huge amount of reading going on (and, none of the users have to pay a penny for the service…)

And, if you just don’t have enough book recommendations in your life, here are 6 YouTube channels where some varied folk give varied recommendations ( and, other bookish ideas and activities, none of which I can vouch for :-)

1. climbthestacks

2. PolandBananasBooks

3. jessethereader

4. Jen Campbell

5. padfootandprongs07

6. Jellafy

Happy Reading :-)

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Book Recommendations to Stir Your Imagination and Perk-Up Your Creativity

There’s an organization called TED that shares video talks that are, usually, extremely interesting; and, often enough, quite amazing.

From TED’s history page:

“TED was born in 1984 out of Richard Saul Wurman’s observation of a powerful convergence among three fields: technology, entertainment and design. The first TED included a demo of the compact disc, the e-book and cutting-edge 3D graphics from Lucasfilm, while mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated how to map coastlines using his developing theory of fractal geometry.”

Well, TED’s blog had an article entitled, Your summer reading list: 70+ book picks from TED speakers and attendees; and, even though summer is more than half over (in the Northern Hemisphere…), I’m going to share a few of those books with you.

There are ten categories, each with a number of books—I’ll pick two books from eight of the categories and let the truly curious take the link to the article (there are also brief “reviews” for each book in the full article)

Mind-bending fiction, picked by David Eagleman

Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Books on art and race, picked by Anne Pasternak

Who We Be: The Colorization of America by Jeff Chang

Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East edited by Anthony Downey

Illuminating nonfiction, picked by Bill Gates

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization by Vaclav Smil

How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff and Irving Geis

Incredible interviews, picked by Dave Isay

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Haunting novels, picked by Ava DuVernay

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

Books on historical moments, picked by David Rothkopf

A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power

My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit

Books on creativity, picked by Tony Fadell

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

Thought-provoking fiction, picked by Nadia Goodman

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

Happy Reading :-)

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10 Places to Seek and Offer Book Recommendations

Last month, Digital Book World had an article about book recommendation sites.

Some of them you may already know well; some, not

I’ll give you the links here but let you go to the article to read why they picked them-—>Top Ten Book Recommendation Platforms.

Since this article was written 8 has switched from Sony to Kobo—the link explains…


2: Book Bub


4: Bookish

5: Goodreads

6: Jellybooks

7: Riffle

8: Sony Reader Store

9: What Should I Read Next

10: Which Book

Do, please, go read what they say about each of those sites

They also have some Honorary Mentions:

Book Scout
Next Read
The Reading Room
Your Next Read

If you use any of those sites, please share your impressions in the Comments :-)
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Another Look At Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing . . .

I’ve certainly tried to cover the major trends in self-publishing and traditional publishing on this blog

It’s also a certainty that the balance between these paradigms will shift and swerve quite a bit before reaching equilibrium

Today, I want to share two articles, one about a book recommendation site and one about book merchandising—both making a buzz in the news lately.

First is, New ‘Bookish’ Site Ignorish Indie Authors, from IndieReader […the article having been, sadly, removed since this post was first published…].

From the article:

“The site is designed to serve as an ‘all-in-one website that uses proprietary technology’ to help readers find their next book. It will sell some books, while also allowing readers to find most others at the retailer of their choice….its primary purpose is to serve as a recommendation engine.”

However there is “…the question of whether Bookish is purposely excluding indie books. Maybe we should expect no different from a site founded by Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster. Traditional publishers generally see indie books as a threat to their business model, and beneath their notice unless they become a national bestseller.”

“In fact, you could argue this whole endeavor is a day late and a dollar short. There are already plenty of book recommendation sites, such as Goodreads, Amazon’s Shelfari or Indie Reader, and all of these include indie books (with the latter being dedicated to them.) What precisely is Bookish bringing to the table?”

Right, what is it bringing to the table?

Feel like going there and checking it out and coming back and sharing in the Comments what you think it might be bringing to the table?

The second article is Smashwords Authors Gain Seat at the Merchandising Table with the Apple iBookstore’s Breakout Books Promotion.

From the article:

“Apple’s iBookstore today [Feb.4th] launched Breakout Books in the U.S., a new book merchandising feature that showcases books from popular self-published authors, including several that have already achieved New York Times bestseller status (update:  – The New York Times covered the story today!).  (However: The Breakout Books section on the iBookstore seems to have become lost, sometime, in the 7 years since this was first published…).

“Most major retailers reserve such high profile merchandising attention for large, long-established publishers.

“Although the iBookstore has always carried and supported self-published ebooks, today’s launch signifies an escalated commitment on the part of Apple, whose iBookstore currently sells books in 50 countries.  The iBookstore first piloted the Breakout Books feature in their Australian store and has since implemented similar features in Canada and the U.K.”


“A retailer’s merchandising decisions are among the most important drivers for book sales.  To appreciate the significance of Apple’s move, it’s helpful to understand how readers discover books, and how a store’s merchandising decisions impact customer decision-making.  In order for a reader to discover and purchase a book, the book must be:

  1. available – in a store where readers are looking for books
  2. discoverable – visible and findable in the store
  3. desirable – the book must satisfy the reader’s desire for entertainment, escapism or knowledge.  Key levers that determine desirability include bookseller recommendations, customer reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations, author brand, author platform, and price.
  4. affordable – the reader must perceive the value of the book to be greater than the retail price and the value of their time to read it”

The article goes on to explain “WHY EBOOK RETAILERS ARE EMBRACING SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS” and also has a fascinating list of “Multiple Smashwords Authors Featured in Breakout Books”.

By the way, “Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks.”


Two stories, two messages

If you’re the kind of person who reads a blog post then follows the links and reads those articles, you’d help the other readers of this blog quite a bit if you left your opinion of these two stories in the Comments :-)
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