“You Must Read The Bone Clocks”

Some questions about how we choose our books.

June 30, 2015
The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell
Published in September, 2014.
A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with one of the smartest people I know. During the course of our lunch we got to talking about books. We bonded over Seveneves. We talked about when the 6th novel of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series (The Winds of Winter) will come out. 
At one point in our conversation I asked my colleague for about what novel I should read next. A little bit of context is probably important about the source of this book recommendation. My friend is the Digital Humanities and English Librarian at my institution.  
She looked me straight in the eye, and with equal parts intensity and passion, she said “You must read The Bone Clocks”.
Have you read The Bone Clocks?
The truth was that I was afraid to read The Bone Clocks. The book is 656 pages long. The audiobook is 24 hours and 30 minutes. The opportunity cost of a book this long is 2 other books that will go unread. 
My colleague was having none of my excuses. She vouched for the book. She told me that every page is terrific. She said that if I was looking for a book that combines the best attributes of an intricately plotted novel and elements of hard science fiction / fantasy, that it would be difficult to surpass The Bone Clocks.
She said that if I only chose short books that I will live an intellectually and emotionally impoverished life. (She is actually way too polite to say have said that, but I'm sure this is what she was thinking).
I read The Bone Clocks.
I wish I could say that my friend's recommendation was enough to cause me to buy the book. The truth is that it was the combination of my colleague's recommendation, and the fact that The Bone Clocks is available as a Whispersync Audible/Kindle book, that motivated me into reading action. Whispersync was made for long books.
The fact that I so loved reading The Bone Clocks has caused me to think about how we select our books. 
Do we have any data on what percentage of books that we read are chosen based on personal recommendations? 
Do we know what sorts of book recommendations are most likely to motivate the reading of a book? 
Do we put equal value on recommendations given in person as those that come digitally?  
Would I have been equally likely to read The Bone Clocks if I read a written recommendation, as opposed to receiving an in-person verbal recommendation?  
Does the length of the written recommendation matter?  Is a tweeted book recommendation as good as a longer blog review?
What is the appropriate role for academic librarians to play in recommending books to read?  Is the recommendation of an academic librarian more likely to result in a book being read?
How important is word of mouth for book sales as opposed to other types book marketing?
How has the dominance of Amazon in online and digital book sales changed the book marketing dynamic?
Assuming that word of mouth is an important channel for book marketing, how do publishers encourage people to recommend books?
What is the best book about the new economics of the book business?
What are you reading?


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