As I watch my publisher design strategies (and participate in efforts myself) to get the name and sense of my book to the public, I come to wonder how we find the the books we read these days. I don't mean when we know the book we want, how do we get it, but rather how do we discover new titles and new writers? How do we find that astonishing read which comes from out of nowhere and brings unexpected joy with it?
Advertisements in public places are generally reserved for authors who are already massively popular. Browsing in bookstores is always fun, but you need a bookstore near you and the time to pick through the offerings. Also, with corporate megaliths dominating the bookstore world, it's easy to feel as though your tastes are being guided to some extent by the prominence of book placement within the store and other below-the-conscious-level marketing techniques. Amazon, though difficult to really browse through, has no shortage of offerings and they even recommend titles similar to ones they know you like. On the other hand, this strategy can be somewhat limiting, and there's nothing quite like holding a book in your hand and flipping through it to see whether or not there's a connection. There are websites for every taste (not unlike the one you're on right now), but you have to seek them out for the most part and they tend to concentrate within particular genres.
What I'm driving at here is a hope that books are still discovered by word of mouth, that a friend can sometimes drop something into your lap that you never would have come by yourself but suddenly and completely changes your reading life. A friend noted a book to me the other day, based on the fact that it had the creepiest cover he had ever seen (click on the image above for a better look -- it's worth it). I had a look and hunted down a copy for myself. I haven't read it yet, but I'm very excited. The creation of a story, at its best, is an incredibly personal experience that is meant to spark something similarly personal in readers. It would be lovely to think that such a personal connection could travel all the way through the process.