Book Discovery Improved: A New Site to Discover Good Reads Instead of Cheap Deals

BookBub has been the incontested giant in book discovery and has gathered a huge following, over 1.5 million subscribers, in a matter of a few months. But there's a new cool site on the scene, a David to BookBub's Goliath.

It has an innovative business model that focuses more on getting in the reader's hands the books they want to read rather than bringing them books free or at a deep discount, as BookBub does.

Who's this bright new kid on the block? Aptly called The Fussy Librarian (click here to visit the site), it has now come of age since I last blogged about it a month ago (see here). 

The Fussy Librarian started this summer by gathering info about readers' preferences, giving them the choice of  30 genres in fiction and non-fiction plus 10 content options identifying the level of sex and violence they are looking for (see their subscribe page here).

Then in September it opened up to authors to submit their books (see here

Now, here's the clever part and where it differs from BookBub that concentrates only on the price of affirmed best sellers or books that have won critical appraisal in the main press and literary journals.

What the Fussy Librarian does is totally different. They want to unearth the good reads that have gotten buried under the tsunami of self-published books

To do this, they've set up a different kind of barrier to entry for authors - if your book doesn't comply with these requirements, it won't be accepted. Here they are, in their own words:
  • 10 reviews and a 4.0 rating on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or 20 reviews and a 3.5 rating.
  • A quality cover. In their own words: "We can’t stress this enough – it doesn’t matter how brilliant your writing is if you have an amateur-looking cover".
  • A price of $5.99 or less.
This is very clever, because:

(a) they've maintainted the price range under control; the books on offer on their site will always be (relatively) cheap, BookBub beware!

(b) they aim for a quality read by focusing on three tell-tale signs: (1) number of reviews, (2) ratings and (3) a professional book cover. This is essential to help keep out the self-published, vanity "slushpile" that so much irritates readers and rightly so.

So far, 500 books were already submitted to them and they are about to start mailing recommendations to their subscribers. They are open for submission and the waiting period before recommendations are sent out is still short for certain genres because of the relative scarcity of submissions in those areas. This concerns, as of now: all nonfiction, action-adventure, African-American, children/middle grade, literary fiction, historical fiction, police procedurals, religious fiction, romance erotic, biography/memoir. So if you have written in those genres, hurry to submit your book! If, on the other hand, your book is romance, be prepared for a long wait before a recommendation is sent out: 96 days!

They have also shared their data on genre rankings based on what their readers have said they liked. In the top ten categories, you find:
  1. Mysteries
  2. Thrillers
  3. Women's fiction
  4. Historical fiction
  5. Romance contemporary
  6. Literary fiction
  7. Young adult
  8. Fantasy/steampunk
  9. Science fiction
  10. Biography/memoir
That's interesting because it corresponds pretty well to the rankings on Amazon and in the market in general. This implies that they have managed to gather a respectable and representative mass of readers - in short, they are headed in the right direction. 

Needless to say, I submitted my boomer novel, A Hook in the Sky (you can find it here on Amazon where it has now 28 reviews, but it's also available on all other e-book stores, including Apple, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords). And I certainly hope to find new readers thanks to the Fussy Librarian!

A closing comment: 
Sites like The Fussy Librarian are still far away from book-discovery sites like the UK's Whichbook (see here) that rely on sophisticated reader-profiling tools and can count on a large revolving team of readers coming from UK libraries and literary journals and are willing to check on book quality ( currently, some 70 people).  But although Whichbook has developed an original tool for book research on the basis of many criteria, it is not a commercial marketing tool as such and does not contact you on your email box with recommendations.

What a pity that the two systems can't come closer together! What's your opinion as a reader or writer or both? 

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Unknown said…
I still think this is problematic-- book gorilla regularly send me emails full of things I never asked for. I've grown tired of it. Sometimes I want more or less of things, so I'm unsure about their system, but I get their reasoning.

If they're going to dial down that far, it's fine, but I don't think they'll be chock full of referral books. I think they'll suffer from a lack of books. I'd be happy to be proved wrong, but I consistently see people giving outrageously high reviews to thoroughly poorly written books, so I don't really trust the service. Word of mouth will always be #1 for me.
Unknown said…
I'm not really so sure about the criteria they have set up for determining what the "good books" are. It seems to rely heavily on reviews from readers. In my experience, those are often written by people who couldn't discern a bad book from a good one, even if the bad one bit them in the you-know-what. I would much rather have the selections based off reviews from pro critics, or at least a team of readers from the site itself.

If this algorithm does work as intended, it will come in handy! I would probably use it along with BookBub. I typically like to read one or two really good books a month, but my budget requires filling the gaps with those cheap deals!
Unknown said…
Their desired aim of unearthing things others haven't read is in direct conflict with the requirement for a minimum of 10 reviews. Equally, who is judging whether or not a cover is good? I'm afraid this is just another "I'll try and jump on the bandwagon and pick up commissions from Amazon" review sites.