Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Fiscal Year of Social Media and Book Purchasing

I love to read books. I love to write about reading books. I love reading books almost as much as I love writing them.
A book trend that I cannot ignore is that within the last year, my book buying habits have completely changed.
First, the economy blows and while I have a nice job with a good, smart company, we’re pinching pennies here at Chez Pacheco. I make my lunch. Cutting down on the coffee shop trips (sadness). Bargain hunting at the wine store. Curtailing travel. Etc. If you haven’t personally received the message it’s time to circle the wagons, um, it’s time to circle the wagons.
Second, I purchase many books. Did I mention I love books?
I spent, on the average, $300 less in books from June ‘08 to June ‘09 than the year previous. However, that is just me. I have increased the amount of money I spend on books for the family. The family dramatically increased their book consumption, and even while we are heavy library users, there is value in owning your own book and supporting our favorite authors with purchasing dollars.
Let’s make this personal: I bought books to read for me and me alone. And many of them I found through word-of-mouth via social media. This is different from how I was buying books merely a year ago. Completely.
Let me give you an example of books for me me me:
Title Author How Found Found Notes
Cracked Up to Be Courtney Summers Social Media Blog link to author’s blog via a Tweet
Monster Hunter International Larry Correia Social Media Blog link to author’s blog
Better to Beg Forgiveness Michael Z. Williamson Me I purchase all this author’s books
The Pirate King R.A. Salvatore Me I purchase all this author’s Drizzt books
When the Whistle Blows Fran Slayton Social Media Twitter
Silver Phoenix Cindy Pon Social Media Blog link to author’s blog
Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter R. J. Anderson Social Media Blog link to author’s blog
Old Man’s War John Scalzi Social Media Email News Letter/Blog link to Amazon
Contract with Chaos Michael Z. Williamson Me I purchase all this author’s books
Effective Defense : The Woman, the Plan, the Gun Gila Hayes In person recommendation Research
Unwind Neal Shusterman Social Media Blog link to Amazon
Storm from the Shadows David Weber Me I buy all Honorverse books
Rite of Passage Alexei Panshin Me Replacement for lost book
Stewards of the Flame Sylvia Engdahl Social Media Author’s Website
The Master of Norriya Wayland Drew Me Replacement for lost book
Memoirs of Alcheringia Wayland Drew Me Replacement for lost book
Nightwalker Jocelynn Drake Social Media Blog link to Amazon
Off Armageddon Reef David Weber Me Browsing in Barnes and Nobel
Identity and Control: How Social Formations Emerge (Second Edition) Harrison C. White Me Research
The World Without Us Alan Weisman Social Media Google Hit via Research
Chindi Jack McDevitt In person recommendation Rare in bookstore recommendation
This list is not complete, I’m far too lazy to get a complete list, but it is close for a June-to-June look. This also does not include all the books I received as gifts (which were many, nom)
The prior year before that? One or two books in the “Social Media” category. I was not on Twitter. I did not use blogs for book purchasing decisions. I found books either by browsing the bookstore or by browsing Amazon or by talking to friends in person.
Let me reiterate this:
  • Prior to becoming active in social media, how found was mainly “Me”
  • After becoming active in online communities, online word-of-mouth recommendations carried significant weight in my book purchasing dollars
  • I spent $300 less on books for myself over the same time period
In the space of a year, my book buying habits changed dramatically, and I will say, for the better. I am spending less on books for myself, but I am no longer an isolated book buyer.
Adjust or die.
How many books have people bought in the fiscal year based on my recommendations?
Embrace change.
What is next year going to hold as the economy tanks further?
Keep your eyes wide open when making plans.
Is this the beginning of the social media revolution for books?
Adjust. Or. Die.


  1. I wonder sometimes how much effect social media has on book buyers. This post is an interesting answer to that question. It made me realize the diversity of the books I've purchased recently because of blogs and links, etc.

  2. Most of my book purchases begin as a search for information. Most of the books I have purchased on the recommendation of a blogger have been a disappointment. I haven't kept up with how much I have been spending on books, but I know I have spent more on books this year than last.

  3. Important topic!

    I especially enjoyed reading the specifics on your book choices. Reason: I've considered checking out the Pon book and the Anderson book. Also, both were reviewed on Alex's solo blog. I read a passage from each that succeeded in getting me more interested. The main reason that I haven't bought these books is that I have a stack of books that I have not finished yet and I have determined to either quit them or finish them before I buy more books. Also, I'm wondering if they are "girl" books. What's your take on that?

    (and Alex, if you are reading this, Dragon in Chains is one of those half finished books)

    The one book that is up at the top of my to buy list is Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover. One of the main reasons is that I read a review of it on a blog that made it sound like it was suited to my tastes. The other reason is that I have had some interaction with the author via blogging. So, that's all to say I agree with your observations.

    I know a YA author who has sent ARCs out to bloggers to be reviewed, but she does not blog herself. Her reason is that she says that she does not have enough time. I'm curious to hear what your opinion on this is. I can imagine you saying, "Adapt or die," but what I am really getting at is an ethical issue. Do you think that it is right to have people review your book via a blog site, but refuse to participate in blogging yourself? Seems to me that the author ought to at least interact with people that comment on the blog book review.

    fyi - I'd look forward to a review of the books you found via social media.

  4. I find this subject fascinating. I haven't kept track, but I know I now buy more books that I've heard about on blogs and such than those I've read about on the New York Times Best Seller List.

  5. Dave,

    I am still going through my reading list. I've been reading like mad, but have not dived in SP or FR yet. However, I have reviewed Unwind, and Cracked Up to Be, and you can find those on my blog.

    Yes, I totally agree that if you're an author and you're sending out an ARC to bloggers, you should have a blog yourself!

    As long as we are not talking about commenting on reviews of your own work. Doing so will skew discussion of your own reviews. Nothing kills an honest rant more, I would think, if an author showed up in a review thread of her own book. Indeed, I have talked to published authors and they told me as much.

    But back to Silver Phoenix and Faery Rebel, The Wife Unit read those and she said they were not too girly, but she is a girly-girl so take that as its worth.

    Wings, on the other hand, I decided to just check out of the library later. I read the first chapter and it was like GIRL STUFFS. LOL.

    In any event, going back over the list, there are a surprising number of books I picked up that were the author's debut.

    Gotta go, more reading, but here is my bottom line: in the not so distant future, if you are an author, if you don't have your finger in the social vibe...yer fooked.

  6. Facinating. I hadn't thought of it. My reading habits have changed as well, in the same ways. (We're also pinching pennies, and I've also found a ton of books through social media rather than browsing brick-and-mortar books stores.) At the same time, I've also been investing more time and intellectual effort in the upkeep of my own blog.


Join the conversation, add insight, or disagree with us! We welcome your thoughts.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.