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A few days ago, Hachette Book Group sent me an email. No, it wasn’t to offer me a six figure book deal, it was a request to fill out a survey.

Hachette Book Group is conducting a brief survey of our e-newsletter subscribers and social network followers to improve online services we offer. Your input may help us provide you with a more custom experience in the future when you visit our sites. We estimate that it will take approximately 5 minutes to complete the survey.

Well, how could I resist! So many people were kind enough to fill out my survey, the least I could do was respond to a large, multi-national publisher.

I wish I had written down all the questions … and, unfortunately the survey link will not let me enter a second time, however, it might interest you to know that Hachette is asking questions about readers’ interest in connecting with other readers online through the HBG website, having the ability to submit book reviews, getting information about new books and so on. If they had looked at the historical fiction survey results, they would have seen where readers prefer to go for recommendations and that publishers rank low on the list.

And why is that? Readers indicated quite clearly that they choose books by author, genre and, in the case of historical fiction, by era. The winners in connecting readers with books share three attributes:

  • thoughtful, trustworthy information about books,
  • opportunities for dialogue and an exchange of ideas, and
  • a community of like-minded readers.

I suspect readers rarely think of publishers by name except perhaps brands like Harlequin that focus on marketing to consumers or, dare I say, Amazon that began as an online retailer and gradually added businesses like publishing to the mix.

A dilemma for sure. I wonder if we’ll see further news on Hachette’s plans for becoming consumer focused.