Discovering Books

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

Tech Crunch quotes Otis Chandler:

Chandler notes that โ€œthe publishing industry has a huge discovery problem, because books are going digitalโ€ 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 โ€“ no long tail here โ€“ and so must carefully curate what to fill the shelves with.

As we move more and more to online book retailing and eBooks whoโ€™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 โ€˜other readers like you likedโ€ฆโ€™ recommendations?

My local book shop doesnโ€™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 thereโ€™s a business model. Someone, Iโ€™m sure, already has it nailed.

Scientific Discoveries with Social Media

So here is an interesting use of social media โ€“ 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.