It might seem obvious, but you need to know where your customers are getting their reading suggestions from. The growth of the internet has stretched that field a whole lot more than in years past, but don’t underestimate getting the basics right as well.
While Collections staff might see more of the pre-publication information through trade journals and review magazines, at the end of the day, it is vitally important to know what it is that your customers are seeing & what is being promoted across a range of media.
Social Media – authors, publishers, illustrators, commentators
Follow publishers, review journals, magazines, newspapers, authors and illustrators on Twitter. A colleague of mine follows publishers & authors on Facebook. She likes Facebook, I prefer Twitter, so we swap information & ideas instead both being in the same online spaces. The conversations that authors have with their readers is amazingly diverse, so you need to see that in action.
I’ve worked with colleagues who regularly check the Book Forums on TradeMe to see what’s being discussed, as well as colleagues who browse fanfic sites, and who hang out in online writer’s forums to find out about new authors, including self-published rising stars.
Ask your customers directly
If you receive regular “suggestions to buy” for collection areas that you don’t usually find materials on, then ask your customers where they found the information. Ask your customers where they get their recommended reads from – is it Good Reads, Book clubs, local bookstores?
The quirky places
I’d also recommend checking the websites of small publishers and indie booksellers. This is especially useful for specialist non-fiction and specific fiction genres (e.g. erotic fiction, western fiction), because these published books are almost never in library review journals. Again, ask your customers who read non-mainstream where they find their reading recommendations.
The usual suspects
Read the print and/or digital magazines that you have in your borrowing collection, so you know what it is that customers are likely to read about.
Scan the Radio NZ book review listings.
Read local & national & international newspapers.
Listen to local & national radio stations.
Browse local & national television listings (especially useful for movies, cooking shows, and all the kids channels for trending tv characters).
At the end of the day
It’s about knowing your customers and knowing your community. It’s about being where your customers are. If you don’t know, then be prepared to ask them.