Librarians & publishing industry come together on book recommendations

Algorithms and targeted marketing campaign programs have in many ways taken over the book-recommendation process across the globe. Whereas readers used to stop by their local library and talk to a librarian about the best books to read, many people now simply visit Amazon and find out what the bookselling giant recommends for them based on page views, purchases and their other Internet activity trends. Seeing a need to reach out to the consumer and provide helpful, beneficial librarian recommendations to readers, the American Library Association is launching LibraryReads in the fall of 2013.

The LibraryReads program is being created as an online, grassroots community of knowledgeable librarians — think of it as a social network for the best-read group of people in the United States. The goal is to provide 10 different recommendations for adult book titles that were published that month. Essentially, the program will offer a “must-read list” for the public libraries across the country and users on the site. The list is described as being the books that librarians have “read, loved and cannot wait to share with their patrons.”

This unique program has allowed librarians and publishers to work together toward a common cause. The creation of LibraryReads is being funded by many partners throughout the publishing industry, including big names such as HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA), Macmillan, Random House, Inc., Other Press, Quercus Publishing and Workman Publishing. While many publishing partners are working with the American Library Association to bring this service to readers across the country, it is the librarians who will be nominating and choosing the top picks. Publisher partners receive no guarantees that their books will make the cut, and a publishing group does not have to be a partner in order for one of its books to end up on the Top 10 list.

The development of LibraryReads began back in 2011, when a group of people were having a conversation at a summer library conference. A panel discussion took place that outlined the important role that librarians played in the national discourse about books and the book culture in general. Librarians serve as some of the greatest marketing professionals for publishers, as their word-of-mouth recommendations and personalized reviews often generate buzz about a new book title. Using the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next List as inspiration, the idea for LibraryReads was born. The ABA is lending back-office support as well as providing expert advice for the developers of LibraryReads, in order to ensure that it’s as successful as the Indie Next List.

While there are still people who reach out to their local librarians each day for a good recommendation for a great book, the Millennials and all generations to come are far more accustomed to using the Internet to discover book titles they may be interested in reading. With this in mind, LibraryReads is finally going to bridge the gap between the online world of book recommendations and the vast, informed knowledge of librarians. It will allow patrons to get information on the best new titles without having to physically go to the library to do so. However, it is still recommended that people visit their local library to check out community programs, browse through books and utilize the resources that are available.