Discovering Books

One of the problems with the long tail is discovery. It’s all well and good for the internet to enable you to access 1,000,000’s of [insert type of content here], but how do you discover content that’s relevant to you?

Tech Crunch quotes Otis Chandler:

Chandler notes that “the publishing industry has a huge discovery problem, because books are going digital” and brick-and-mortar bookstores are disappearing.

(My emphasis.)

I love my local book shop. Why? Because I can wonder in and discover interesting, thought-provoking and entertaining things to read. The shop has limited shelf space – no long tail here – and so must carefully curate what to fill the shelves with.

As we move more and more to online book retailing and eBooks who’s going to perform that curation? Is it only going to be friends and acquaintances making recommendations through real and social networks? Is it going to just be the retailers automated ‘other readers like you liked…’ recommendations?

My local book shop doesn’t have a web site. But they have been known to order books in for me via Twitter. How can they continue to offer that valued curation service in an all-digital world?

One option might be through services like Good Reads (Otis, quoted earlier, is the CEO of Good Reads). I could imagine a Wallingford Book Shop group on something like Good Reads as a way of extending that valued curation service beyond the physical walls of the store. Likewise, an extension of the school library via a group that recommends and discusses books for students.

Somewhere in there there’s a business model. Someone, I’m sure, already has it nailed.

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Scientific Discoveries with Social Media

So here is an interesting use of social media – in this case flickr, the social photo sharing service. Engadget reports how a new species of Malaysian Lacewing was discovered by an Entomologist [definition] browsing through images on the site.

The Victorians did this sort of thing by amassing large collections of bugs. It looks like Generation Z are going to do it from the comfort of the sofa.

Details and links in the Engadget post.