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Many booksellers are fighting as hard as they can to stay offline, rather than expand and help their stores using the internet. However, myself and a number of other forward-thinking folks in the industry are looking to the web for ways to keep bookselling vital and viable. This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list of resources for other bookies, but is a list of the sites that I visit (or come up in my RSS reader) every morning before going into the store. I welcome suggestions of other sites and thoughts on these ones in the comments section.
PW Daily – Publishers Weekly’s daily newsletter. Collects publishing and book news, PW blogs about various topics, pictures from events, jobs in the book world, and upcoming appearances by authors on TV and radio.
Shelf Awareness – A daily e-mail newsletter that offers “Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade”, with a much stronger ground-level bookstore and library focus than PW. Collects letters, events and event ideas from bookstores across the country, books that are reaching a tipping point, and other book news.
Google News – A few times a week I pop “books”, “bookselling”, “publishing” and the like into Google’s news search, which shows pieces that match the keywords from online news outlets. A great way to get articles and op-eds that you might not come across otherwise.
New York Times (Book Section) – Articles focusing on books from the national newspaper of record. Great source for reviews of books customers will be in asking about soon. The Times also runs a book blog, called Paper Cuts.
Trends and Book “Hotness”
Bookseller Blog – Site discussing “online marketing … and blogging for the independent bookseller.” Fantastic resource, especially for booksellers still wondering how best to make a mark online.
Amazon – Online book megastore. Though I hate to send any traffic towards indie booksellers’ biggest rival, their list of what titles are selling fastest is a great way to catch what books are becoming “hot.” User reviews, lists, and “how-to” pieces are another great resource.
Ingram iPage – Website for the world’s largest book wholesaler. Like Amazon, Ingram’s list of titles with the highest demand is a great way to gauge what is rising to the top in the book world.
Google Trends – Google’s listing of the most searched-for words at google.com. While it takes some time to wade through the information, Trends provides opportunities for bringing traffic to your site. If you know of a book or are having an event that matches one of the top words, write a blog post about it and capitalize on the increased search traffic.
Google Analytics -Kind of like a reverse of the above. Rather than seeing what people are searching for, you can track where people are coming to your blog from and what they are looking at.
Blogs and Social Networks
Books on the Nightstand – Podcast and blog from Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, publishing colleagues at Random House. Book recommendations, book gift ideas, and conversations about books with an active group of commenters.
Galleycat – Galleycat is mediabistro.com’s blog about the book publishing industry. Feels like a younger, hipper PW. Also one of the few blogs to publish a lot of video updates, which is a fun change of pace.
Harper Studio Blog – Blog for the Harper Studio imprint, which I think is on the bleeding edge of the publishing industry. Posts about publishing news and technology with a healthy dose of opinion.
Bookgasm – A site dedicated to “reading material to get excited about!” Book reviews and news with a focus on genre fiction, graphic novels and “other things that much of America pretends to be ashamed of.” Some of the most consistently entertaining, well-written and informative book reviews online.
Bookslut – Long-running web blog/magazine with reviews, interviews and regular columnists. Good mix of tastes among contributors, and a sure place to find new content on a daily basis.
ABA Omnibus – The American Bookseller’s Association blog, which covers “bookselling, retail, authors, culture, technology and…”. Regular updates, and fantastic for discovering other book blogs – often updates are round-ups of opinions and stories from other blogs.
Goodreads – A “social cataloging” community, in which users keep track of the books they have read, are reading, and want to read. Good place to create a presence for your store, to keep up on what others are reading, and to discover new titles.
Twitter – A micro-blogging site that allows users to create 140-character (or less) updates, essentially nano-blog entries. Great resource for booksellers to communicate with customers about events, and to discuss bookselling with others in the industry. The ABA has created a guide to Twitter for booksellers, available here. Honestly, I have not found a better place for networking and brainstorming with other people in the book biz than Twitter.
Finally, a quick example of how quick and helpful Twitter can be. This morning, I posted a “tweet” asking people to suggest book blogs they check on a daily basis. Within minutes, I’d gotten quite a few I haven’t read yet – Booksquare, index//mb, BookNinja, Conversational Reading, The Millions, Maud Newton, Book Bench, Short Stack, Reluctant Habits, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, Jacket Copy, Journalista, largehearted boy, and Guardian’s book blog. Thanks to @AnnKingman, @RichRennicks, @JessicaJames, @readandbreathe, @AlgonquinBooks, @largeheartedboy and @bookavore for the help!