Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Not Reading New Books! Oh no!

I recently decided that I couldn't do the big Classics challenge partly because I need to keep my reading deck free to read new books. But then I read this in an article in Shelf Awareness:

Two years ago, 35% of book purchases were made because readers found out about a book in bricks-and-mortar bookstores, the single-largest site of discovery. This year, that figure has dropped to 17%, a reflection both of the closing of Borders and the rise of e-readers. In the same period, personal recommendations grew the most, to 22% from 14%. Some three-quarters of personal recommendations are made in person, while the rest come by e-mail (8%), phone (7%), Facebook (4%) and other social networks (3%).

A problem for publishers and authors of new titles is that the vast majority of personal recommendations are backlist titles. Only 6% of books recommended personally have been published in the past half year--and just 2% were published within three months.

At first I felt smug, figuring I was one of the personal recommenders, but then that second paragraph pulled me up. Only 6% of the books are frontlist? Really? But then I thought about the books I've been reading lately, and I knew it was true. I just finished Guns, Germs and Steel which was published in 1997. And before that I read The Giver, published in 1993. Hmm. So I decided to go back through the books I've read this year and see how many are recent.

And I'm pretty shocked at the numbers so far. Three books I read were brand-new when I read them, just out in hardcover. Those are: I Will Not Leave You  Comfortless, All Roads Lead to Austen, and The Girl in the Park. Then seven books were just recently out in paperback (although to be honest on most of those, I read the hardcover that had been sitting around my house for a while.) Those books are: Clara and Mr. Tiffany, The Tiger's Wife, The American Heiress, What Alice Forgot, The Snowman, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, and Malled.

So 10 of the 53 books I've read this year were frontlist, and actually only 3 were truly frontlist and not reprints. Yikes. I really don't read as much frontlist as I thought I did! Wow.

I am currently reading a frontlist book, and the next one in my pile is also frontlist, so that'll bring me up to 5 which is 10%, more respectable. But jeez, I need to stay on top of this better next year! Yes, this year I did get a few books off my To Read list from eons ago (Terms of Endearment, The Thorn Birds, The Fatal Shore), but it truly is part of my job to stay abreast of what's publishing now. So for the rest of the year, I'm going to try to get my number up to 10. We'll see. I do still have two challenges to finish (Australian and Non-Fiction Non-Memoir) as well as my book club, so I'll really have to work to squeeze them in. But I've done enough cleaning up of old shelves - I need to read some books just out now. I think I'll check right now with the library on the new Jasper Fforde, a friend from Hachette is sending me a couple of books I'll pounce on, and I'll buy a couple of the new Great Group Reads titles for National Reading Group Month. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

Booksnyc said...

Interesting post! I always seem to have the opposite problem where I rush to read what is newest but forget about all the great books I have on my shelves. I'll have to run the numbers as you have done and see how it shakes out.