Finding Good Books to Read

June 21, 2014 in Articles

Good Books To ReadYou would think that finding a good book to read in this new world of digital technology would be a synch! Not always the case though, traditional publishing is in decline and the time of the independent publisher is definitely here, but with a few drawbacks.

Love them or loathe them traditional publishers, good ones at least, did tend to ensure that a certain level of quality was maintained in the world of books. They were the gatekeepers and quality controllers of the publishing world. Any book that was not properly edited, proof read and formatted simply didn’t get out of the door. Then of course there is the content to consider, now that’s where things could become a bit subjective. For example Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by a dozen publishing houses before being taken on by a small publishing house at the behest of the CEO’s eight year old daughter. So basically it took a child to spot the magic of Harry Potter and bring it into the public domain. There have also been plenty of other famous authors that were rejected. So clearly the publishing houses don’t always get it right and who knows how many brilliant authors with fantastic books simply gave up and failed to reach the illustrious position of ‘innovation’ (that means commercial release in the development world).

Clearly then there is a strong case for independent publishing, because authors can in effect bypass the gatekeepers and let the public be the judge of their work. The problem is that they can, to a certain extent, bypass the quality control process as well. Some may decide not to use an editor or even get their book proof read. And as for the formatting, for digital books at least, anyone that has tried to read a badly formatted eBook will tell you, even if the story is a good one, the frustration may just see it thrown to one side and discarded before it is finished.

Which brings us back to the question of how to find a decent book that is worth reading from the content perspective as well as the quality perspective, in what is rapidly becoming an ocean of new independent publishers.

Basically what most avid readers want are books where you can simply enjoy a good story without being driven mad by the spelling mistakes, loss of a story line or complete inconsistency in font type, line spacing or size . Well you will be glad to hear that there are ways in which you can separate the wheat from the chaff, read on below for a few suggestions.

Photos Courtesy of PhotoXpress

How to Find a Good Book to Read

Amazon does have some great tools you can use for finding good books based on your past history, preferences, books you like and what other people bought. But they are not the only game in town, even if they are the biggest. That said the first few tips are for finding good books on Amazon.

  1. Amazon book lists, check out the best sellers or hotest new releases lists
  2. Use the ‘What other people bought’ feature on Amazon to find books that other people have read
  3. Scroll to the bottom of a book page to click on tags or categories to get the highest ranking books with the same tags or in the same categories
  4. Look out for ‘Listmania’ lists, they usually appear at the left hand side of search results and sometimes you can search Listmania so just put in what you are searching for.
  5. Register with book review sites where you can list the books you have read, review them and recommend them to others. And of course visa versa. Probably the best known of these sites is GoodReads
  6. Look for blogs that publish, distribute and/or review books. eBookIssues for example.
  7. You can look on social media sites and search for books or genres of books, sites like Stumbleupon and Delicious are particularly good for books.
  8. Micro-blogging sites such as the famous Twitter remember to use the # when you search e.g. #ebooks #indies #books #romance etc.
  9. Multiple digital format distributors such as Smashwords so that you can get your books in a format to suit your eReading devices.

Book Distributors Other Than Amazon

Not all of these distributors offer ‘look inside’ or free samples but most do and you can always check the books out on the sites that do and then purchase in your preferred format.

Both Barnes & Noble and Smashwords offer free samples to download for sure.

Smashwords
This is the biography page for Moulin Publications. Moulin Publications provides a specialist eBook publishing service to all authors struggling to deal with the file formatting requirements asked of them to get their books published on Smashwords and other popular eBook distribution sites.

iTunes – Books
Get a free sample or buy The Mobius Twist – Alien Abduction and Judgement of the Human Race by Markham Turner on the iTunes Store. You can read this book with iBooks on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Barnes and Noble – Books, Textbooks, eBooks and More
Lower Prices on Millions of Books, Movies and TV Show DVDs and Blu-ray, Music, Toys, and Games. Shop online for eBooks, NOOK, and textbooks. FREE Shipping on $25 orders!

World Famous eBook Store | Diesel eBook Store
Millions of free eBooks, New York Times Bestsellers for $9.99, device freedom to transfer between ebook stores, free mobile ereader apps for android, iphone, ipad, smartphone

Kobo eBooks
Free eBooks, thousands of bestsellers for $9.99, millions of free classic books. Read anytime on your Kobo eReader, tablet, smartphone or computer. Sign up for free today.

AbeBooks Official Site – New & Used Books, New & Used Textbooks, Rare & Out of Print Books
AbeBooks is your source for Used Books, New Books, Rare Books and Out of print books. Find classic collectibles, rare signed editions, used textbooks, and inexpensive bestsellers from independent booksellers worldwide.

A New Way to Choose Which Book to Read
Whichbook is a unique site for choosing what to read. Whichbook offers choices which are not available anywhere else – mood, emotion, plot shape, type of main character, country the book is set in.

How You Can Identify A Good Book To Read

  • Read the reviews on the distributor site, note the new ‘verified purchaser’ indicator on Amazon that tells you the reviewer actually bought the book. Doesn’t always mean they haven’t read it if they are not verified because authors do give away free samples to professional or amateur reviewers
  • Use the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon, you can usually read up to 20% of the book before committing to purchase. Should be enough to get a feel for the quality and the content.
  • Use the request a sample feature or download options on distributor sites. This is similar to look inside but you actually get the sample downloaded to your device
  • Join an on-line book club, GoodReads is one example but you can also look for book clubs that specialise in the genre you are interested in so you can really home in on your favourite types of books. You can look at the reviews and recommendations for books of interest.
  • Join Shelfari this is Amazon’s own book club. You can add books add extra information, join specific groups and so on. The information also feeds back to the book in Amazon. Pretty neat resource for authors and readers.

What Makes a Book Worth Reading Anyway

Makes you laugh or cry or both?

Good booksWhat makes a book worth reading is the million dollar question. Why? Because that is totally subjective and depends on the perspective of the reader. Adults have different perspectives to children, men have different perspectives to women, some people are serious and some people are frivolous. You can probably see where I am going here, we are all different and I have pointed out some of the obvious ones, but there are many others much more subtle than the ones illustrated. So is there a common ground?

I actually don’t think there is, not in terms of perspective anyway, but people do read books for different reasons and these can probably be categorised more easily. For example the two clear functions of a book are either to inform or to entertain. Yes you can then delve into those categories and be more specific, some people are entertained by horror thrillers, or psychological thrillers of the paranormal others by funny books that make them laugh or romantic novels that carry them into a world of fantasy. This is why there are so many different genres and categories associated with books and perhaps why some publishers of books can struggle to place their books in the right places for their readers to find them.

That doesn’t really help anyone looking for a good book to read, if a book they would really enjoy is categorised in a way they simply wouldn’t think of searching for it then the likelihood is that they will never find it; other than by accident. I also think that sometimes people don’t actually know what they are looking for or in fact what they will enjoy. So what happens?

Typically people latch onto one author or genre and stick with it or her/him, probably why recently best selling Trilogy’s have been so successful (assuming of course that the second and third are not required reading to find out what actually happened). Everyone is playing safe, sticking to what they know or what the masses dictate is a good book. Best sellers for example are self perpetuating, the more people that read them the more people there are that want to read them, and why not I hear people saying. Because we are all different is what I say, so instead of being a bit of a sheep, perhaps we should get off the main rail and take a side track, even if it’s only once in a while.

I seem to have digressed onto a soapbox for some reason, so I had better hop back down onto terra-firma and just finish by saying that what makes a good book is whether it delivered to you, as an individual, what you wanted. Whether that was in an expected or surprising way. Actually the latter would probably be more enjoyable, the fact that you got what you wanted was a surprise, it even sounds better.

So don’t let someone else put you off a book, read the description and yes take in the book reviews but most important of all take a look at the sample for the first few chapters and make up your own mind whether you think you will like it or not. And of course I do have to take a step back from my earlier statement, if you find an author or a genre you really enjoy, then why not take on more of the same, just don’t forget that sometimes a change is as good as a rest. Plus these days in the world of digital eReaders and eBooks, most literary exhibits are very affordable so the risk you are taking is small.

Of course if you are interested in the books on this site you can click on the BOOKS category and browse away.

EBookIssues | Promote your Page too

Are You Making the Most of Goodreads?

August 12, 2013 in Articles, Book Marketing, Book promotions, Writing & Publishing

Goodreads Social Media for BooksGoodreads has just  become one of the most important social media sites for writers and author on the Internet. Why? Because now it is owned by Amazon, the biggest distributor of books on the planet.

So why did Amazon buy Goodreads and why do they intend to let the site run itself independently? Those are deep questions and not that easily answered unless you happened to be a part of the purchasing decision, which unfortunately I was not. But I can hazard a guess!

Even Google is having to sit up and take notice of the power of social media, they have admitted recently that what people say on Facebook and Twitter now forms a part of their assessment of the overall quality and value of a website in terms of authority and ranking. The reason why is because social media is all about humans engaging with one another and sharing their opinions on pretty much any subject you can think of. In other words social media offers something no algorithm can ever do, a human perspective.

So now take a step back and consider this, one of the biggest social media sites for readers, sharing the books they have read and what they think of them. This is word of mouth communication and if enough people recommend a book other people will go and buy it. It is no more complicated than that.

Clearly Google deals in all and every type of information, but Amazon on the other hand is a selling site that deals primarily in books as one of their staple offerings. Simply put more people on Goodreads and other similar sites recommend what books we should all be reading than on any of the other social media sites. That has to be a very attractive carrot dangling in front of the Amazon marketing machine and as with other search engines they will have realised there is only so much their algorithms can do without a human perspective and what better human perspective is there to examine than one that comes from what is probably the top book review site on the Internet.

Shelfari Versus Goodreads

I did wonder why Amazon needed Goodreads when they already own Shelfari outright? But the answer may come from the level of freedom the members have, they are allowed to comment however they want on Goodreads, well as long as they stay within the law. But it seems on Shelfari that some of the moderators have been: let’s say a little over enthusiastic with their censorship. People have stated that they have not been allowed to express their true views. That’s not really the point of a social media site, especially one that exists to review and recommend books. But who knows, perhaps Amazon have realised that Shelfari has got itself a bad wrap and decided it is better to make a fresh start with Goodreads. Or they may simply consider Goodreads to be another string to their bow, after all they already own Shelfari and through their AbeBooks division also own 40% of LibraryThing. That’s a lot of ownership of book review sites and lets not also forget that anyone who visits Amazon’s own site can leave a product review (books included) whether they have purchased that product or not. Non-verified purchases don’t carry the same weight in the Amazon search queries as verified purchases, but they do count to an extent and give Amazon that human perspective right there on the product page.

Whether they start to meddle with Goodreads only time will tell, but if they have learned from Shelfari, they would probably be wise to leave Goodreads alone and just use the data they can get from it rather than trying to control peoples reviews.

Making the Most of Goodreads

So what does Goodreads offer authors? Well if you are an author you can, once you are familiar with the site, get yourself an author account instead of a standard account. This immediately provides you with several benefits:

  • You can add your books to the Goodreads book listings with your own description, cover image, links to distributor sites etc.
  • You can create an RSS feed from your blog straight into Goodreads
  • You can post videos
  • You can create promotional events
  • You can request reviews for your books from followers and friends
  • You can join groups and add your books to those groups

You can also use widgets like the one below to engage with other people. Remembering that social media sites are more about giving than taking. Help other people out and eventually they will help you out. For me personally I think that should mean that you do an honest review of any books you have read and not try to game the system in any particular books favour. It is a tough call, because one man’s meat is another man’s poison. So you could love a book and the next person that reads it on your recommendation may hate it, but there is nothing you can do about that. So just play the honesty card and eventually the people that agree with you will follow your recommendations and those that don’t will not.

Brian’s bookshelf: read

Jewels of French History Books - The Lauragais Story
4 of 5 stars
This book for me is really interesting because it is helping me to discover the region of France I live in. Clearly you hear what has gone on and you pick up snippets of past history, but to read a well researched book written about the …
tagged:
french-history-books and french-history
Eagle in the Sky
5 of 5 stars
One of my favourite books of all time. Wilbur Smith always manages an unexpected twist in his stories and this book was no exception. Loved it. Still think it is worth a review even though I read it a long time ago, in fact it might be d…
The Zanzibar Affair: A High Society Love Story Out of Africa
5 of 5 stars
This was a very well written book with many twists and turns, murder mystery and intrigue add to the plot, which is essentially a love affair that continued across more than one decade. Readers will be treated to a few surprises along th…




goodreads.com

 

A Book Review – Do Book Reviews Help Authors?

April 26, 2012 in Articles, Book Marketing

A book review is an essential aspect of book marketing and promotion, this is a true statement with respect to any author but could never be more true than for a new or emerging book author. The reason why book reviews help new authors is because potential purchasers of a book tend to rely heavily on the views and recommendations of others, even complete strangers. And especially when there is no track record to refer to.

Clearly then a negative book review is going to have a negative affect and will put off a potential buyer. Is that strictly true though or is there perhaps another way to view a negative book review? It is at least an emotion that someone has expressed and they were at least driven to make a comment. So can anything be gained from a negative view?

Book ReviewI read a book recently by the founder of Smashwords (Mark Coker) where he said even negative reviews can sometimes help with book sales. I thought that was a strange thing to say, but the explanation was essentially – one man’s meat is another man’s poison. In other words someone writing a negative comment and awarding a poor rating to a book, because of certain aspects identified within the book, could identify a feature that is exactly what another person is looking for.

I go along with that to a certain extent but I would then consider, personally, that if all reviews are negative that there is perhaps a lesson to be learned and that the book reviews might be an indication that an author has missed the mark on their chosen genre or failed to deliver on their promise to the reader. A mix of both positive and negative reviews however and you can see how Mark’s appraisal would indeed be considered valid, although I am sure he wouldn’t disagree that all negative comments are not the ideal.

So what is the best type of review a book can receive? In truth it is an honest one based on a real appraisal of what was delivered versus what was promised.

If there are bad parts say so, but likewise if there are good parts say that as well. A review is after all your opportunity to share your point of view and let someone else assess whether they are likely to enjoy a book or not. A false expectation as a result of a glowing review, that is clearly not accurate, is likely to result in a stronger negative response to the book than might otherwise have been the case; and may invoke an equally negative or worse review as a result.

Authors do place themselves in the public eye and yes they will, as most people do, crave positive reviews of their work. Who doesn’t, everyone likes a pat on the back. But no reader can be forced to write a review, it is after all their choice whether they go to the trouble and effort required. So getting a review should not be considered a given it has to be earned and hopefully will fall in the positive part of the equation. That said it doesn’t hurt to ask, and any author writing a book can add in a request at the end of their book suggesting that the reader does a review if they enjoyed the book.

A positive review delivered honestly is not only likely to promote further positive reviews but also further book sales. Which at the end of the day is the objective when authors have spent months sometimes even years crafting their art. Also, if you are a reviewer, think about what you are writing, if an author says he is providing you with the basic information you need to grow tomatoes, don’t berate him or her because they didn’t go into the atomic structure of tomato seeds, that is not what they promised.

If you have bought and read a book then remember you can help out. Reward the writer of the books you have read with an honest review that will provide him/her with essential feedback. Plus, of course, you will also be helping other potential customers make a buying decision which can be based on real information.

The best place to review a book is where you bought it, so that could be on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc. Alternatively if you have found a book on a site like this one then you can leave a comment. Nothing could be easier than that.

The Full English by Mike Carden

March 12, 2012 in Books, Non Fiction, Travel

Travel Adventure - Cycling in the UKPedalling through England whilst trying to deal with a mid-life crisis and man-flu all at the same time – you just know this is the basis for a very funny and witty dialogue.
George East, the best-selling author of The Mill of the Flea series, says of the book:
… engaging, informative, entertaining and witty. This bloke makes good writing look as easy as riding a bike. I wish it was…

Funnily enough he even gives his bike a name, ‘Scott’ and an attitude, a bad one. On route from the Dorset coast to Northumbria the author indulges his passion for the history of England and engages with the locals,  meeting more than his fair share of eccentric, funny and friendly characters on the way. You will be able to see if your local landmark is included in the tally of castles and abbeys he visits as he passes through the ancient towns of England.

A Travel Adventure in the UK

Of the kind many aspire to, warm, well-observed, unpretentious, very funny… the kind of cycle tour we can all imagine ourselves taking,  at least when you are not suffering with the man-flu.

Purchase this Book

Available now in printed format from Amazon, you can purchase the book and be reading it in a matter of days. Use the links below:

Book Reviews

In the ‘The Full English’, Carden (and his bike Scott) take the reader on a funny and fascinating journey from one end of England to the other. Never too weighty, but always interesting, Carden’s historical knowledge blends perfectly with his warmth and humour to provide a wonderfully human and informative read, which always hits the right note. I’m very much looking forward to his next adventure. Written by Megan Taylor on Amazon, a well known author in her own right.

To see more reviews of this book click Here.

Diver – Tony Groom

March 9, 2012 in Books, Memoirs, Military History, Non Fiction

Diver by Tony GroomThis is more than a book about the Falklands War. It tells the story of some of the bravest and most professional men in the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy Clearance Divers, not the SAS, were the British mystery unit of the Falklands War of 1982. But this is more than a book about the Falklands War. The gripping accounts are spiced with `black’ humour of the sort that only men engaged in a dangerous profession can really appreciate. Read this book and you will learn why. You will want to turn every page, especially as 2012 is the 30th anniversary of the conflict.

Purchase this Book

Available now in printed format from Amazon, you can purchase the book and be reading it in a matter of days. Use the links below:

Book Reviews

“DIVER is an absolutely fascinating insight into a little known elite group of men within the Royal Navy. A boys will be boys account of a most rewarding career. Both sad and hilarious, Tony tells of his role as a specialist and the never to be broken bonds of friendship that came as a result.
This story will surely stand with the best of Military history literature past and future, once you start reading this book, I challenge you to put it down..”  
Michael W. O’leary “Watchman” on Amazon

To see more reviews of this book click Here. There are 90 reviews at the time of writing nearly all 5 stars, this book is very highly regarded.

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