At a Wednesday afternoon panel at the book fair, director of author marketing at Goodreads, Pat Brown, spoke about how the company remains, even after being acquired by Amazon, a place for authors and their fans. Brown said there is a misconception that Goodreads has become some “Kindle-only site.” Contrary to popular opinion, or rumors, Goodreads remains, he said, for all readers, and is accessible on any device.
Speaking about the company’s growth, Brown pointed to a big push to expand internationally. He noted that Goodreads already has a large base of international users, at 45%. That statistic has been something the site has earned organically, Brown said, and now, overall, the goal is to draw more readers by getting more books on the Web site. Relying on “strong metadata,” Brown said Goodreads wants to see every book on the planet categorized and listed on its site.
When asked about how Goodreads is working with authors, Brown said his team is partly responsible for helping authors with “best practices,” on the site, and helping them learn how best to get their books in readers’ hands. To that end, Brown said the goal is to help authors learn how to use Goodreads as a social tool not dissimilar to Facebook, to teach them how to engage with the community around reading, as opposed to using the site as a way to engage in a sales proposition. While he acknowledged that the ultimate goal for authors will be to sell their book, Brown said the key is for authors to think about “engaging with users around reading,” and not to simply promote themselves or their work.
One shift Brown has seen is the effectiveness of Goodreads as a tool for pre-publication publicity. More and more, he explained, publishers are seeing the value of seeding titles well in advance of publication, through things live cover reveals and sample chapters. Some publishers, Brown said, are working up to a year ahead of publication on this and he believes that a key to promoting sales is getting reviews early (so a book’s page will be populated by them on publication day), as well as having users add the title to their ‘shelf.’ (On Goodreads, users have a bookshelf, or shelf, which consists of a list of books they would like, or intend, to read).
Looking ahead, Brown said he and the Goodreads team believe that in the next few years social will be driving reading, and that more fans will be engaging with readers—and the act of reading—via connections on social media platforms. Goodreads will also be, as Brown put it, “native” on the newest Kindle iteration, which is expected to draw a much larger group of users to the site. Also ahead, are some changes to the company’s mobile site—Brown said he thinks mobile will continue to be a major platform for social reading. Beyond that, Brown noted that Goodreads is eager to get more authors engaged, and that currently the site has 90,000 author-users, from huge brand names to debut writers, but it is always looking, of course, to bring more into the fold.