Reading as a social experience

My son is a marketer focused on digital media and as such, occasionally comes across interesting tidbits he feels I should read. Yesterday, he sent me a link to a post on social reading from Read Write Web. Within that post was a reference to an article on the explosive growth of Goodreads.


  • the social reading post is all about where users “can discover others who are reading similar books, and go right ahead and follow them”.
  • the post quotes one of the co-founders of as saying that their site is designed to enable the book to be experienced as a collection of component parts, and as a mechanism for readers to share key insights from books.
  • In the second post, the author states that Goodreads “currently has 8 million registered members who have written more than 13 million reviews and added more than 280 million books to their virtual shelves”.
  • While there are drawbacks, Goodreads “can function as a universe all its own, and a place to quietly cultivate community”.

Aha. Ties right in with what the historical fiction survey told us about how readers find recommendations for new books and the incredible number of historical fiction review sites available. I haven’t experienced, however, it sounds more suited to non-fiction than fiction while Goodreads handles both.

These two posts support the notion that people love to talk and write about books. According to my survey, women, in particular, love to talk about fiction.

Writers who think of reading as a solitary pursuit – on their part and on the part of their readers – need to think again.

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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6 Responses

    1. Thanks for your comment, Elisabeth. The book club analogy is a good one and usually implies being with like-minded friends. In the case of Goodreads, the community of friends is far-flung and not necessarily operating in real time but they will rally and respond and discuss with vigour. To me, it’s wonderful to see the amount of dialogue books are prompting these days. Do you think Goodreads will become too big to be effective? Many of my survey respondents had favourite ‘small book blogs’ they frequent which makes me think readers want the intimacy of smaller groups.

  1. Goodreads already has millions of members and seems to be maintaining its appeal. Its discussion groups are useful in connecting with a smaller group of readers in a way that is similar to small book blogs. I read a survey recently that confirmed that the main method of recommending books is via word of mouth. In today’s digital age, forums like Goodreads have become a way for ‘word’ to spread between continents – awesome.

    1. I agree – awesome is the word. Even if you read about these phenomena, it’s when you experience them firsthand that they smack you in the face! Word of mouth has a longer reach when it’s word of trusted bits and bytes. I’ve ‘met’ some terrific people through blogging and other social media and because of the way they interact with me and others, have come to trust them. The question I am asking myself is what does this new world mean for my writing. What will I do differently? What should agents and the publishing community do differently? Hope you have a chance to look at today’s post about top four historical fiction blogs. (You’re probably sleeping right now!) Thanks for visiting.

      1. I’m awake now 🙂 I think the dynamics of the publishing world are changing at pace. I think it’s great that readers can access reviews from other readers rather than just from critics who might not even like the genre of the book they’re reviewing. There is an interesting article on authors needing to be ‘Media-genic’ – a bit daunting but very interesting.

        1. This article is fascinating, Elisabeth. I really love it when someone takes a totally different perspective on an industry. Archer’s term “great reading experiences” rather than books is a great example. It broadens the way we (as writers) need to think about what we do. Might have to do a blog post on it! What sort of things are you doing to leverage this ‘brave, new world’?

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