In case you don't know about Bookbub, this is a website that made a remarkable breakthrough in book discovery last year when it started out. According to Publishing Perspectives (read article here), Bookbub has now some 1.5 million subscribers and the point is this: Bookbub knows exactly what genre of books their subscribers like to read. This makes it a unique and indispensable marketing tool for authors. In the words of Josh Schanker, Bookbub's founder and president, “BookBub is a service that highlights limited time deep discounts on acclaimed ebooks.” (highlights added)
The rub: advertising with them is very costly and they are quick to reject you without telling you the reason why. According to their blurb, your book needs to be "acclaimed", whatever that means. Though Mr. Schanker does clarify this a little bit in the Publishing Perspectives article: "When independent authors submit work, we ask: who is this? Does he have a body of work? Has it met with critical acclaim or reader acclaim? Who was the editor? We look for these sorts of things. It’s essential to maintain the trust of our subscribers."
No doubt essential to maintain subscribers' trust but unfortunately somewhat opaque.
Result: there are now new sites springing up in the wake of Bookbub's success and rushing in to fill the gaps.
One of the most successful upstarts in this area is BookGorilla, that just started five months ago in March 2013 (address here: http://www.bookgorilla.com)
So what's different about it?
In an email I got yesterday, BookGorilla recalled how they had managed to build more than 100,000 subscribers in the short time since they launched their site. What's driving this growth is one particular feature that makes Book Gorilla "dramatically different for readers". They claim that along "top-tier established authors", readers find valid, interesting "emerging authors"...which means that authors who use them need to go through their quality control barriers. And that's important. The aim is to reassure readers that they will not be spammed with low-grade, unprofessional books.
Then there's Ebook Bargains UK, just started before the summer (their address: http://ebookbargainsuk.com) Here the quality controls are not highlighted, but presumably they exists and the site appears to be effective.
And if you think that being limited to the UK is a drawback, well, you'd be wrong to think that. Many of my fellow writers swear by them and Ebook Bargains UK is expanding fast. They already cover the US, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and they're about to launch their newsletter in France and Scandinavia. Busy guys!
The newest site, as I said, is The Fussy Librarian. Still in the beta stage, it's calling in readers but not yet taking on authors - I love the name! The home page (my screen shot) looks cool and here is the address: http://www.thefussylibrarian.com
Like all the others, they're on Facebook and Twitter and as one of their tweet says: Your personal librarian. 27 genres. 10 content options. Sign up now. We're giving away an iPad Mini!
Yes, all these sites are marketing-savvy. And, in the case of the Fussy Librarian, the "content options" mean that you can exclude violence or steamy sex if that's not the sort of stuff you go for. Interesting variant!
Congrats to all these new book discovery sites - a much needed service for both readers and writers.
If you're an author or reader, my advice: sign up with them. I have!
Just one word of caution: this will work as long as these sites remember to apply quality control on their authors. In fact, in my opinion, book discoverability would be further helped if those sites also asked more pointed questions from their subscribers.
For example, why not ask readers to list their all time favorite books, or the most recent book they've read and enjoyed? Wouldn't that help zero in on the kind of book one wants to read?
There may be other ways to do this. Any suggestions?