Monday, April 11, 2011


What to do if you love a book

You may ask, why do anything at all? After all, does any book need a boost from you? Ah. Allow me to climb up on my soapbox. You should do something because that book most likely needs your friendly assistance. These days there are fewer and fewer physical bookstores and consequently not nearly enough places where you can walk in and see an array of books in front of you. We are increasingly using online sources to find books. But first we need to know something about that book in order to find it: the title, the author’s name, some category or key word. It’s not quite the same as checking out shelves and tables in a bookstore.

The books that will automatically flash in front of your face are either the ones that have sold the most or those where the publisher has invested in site advertising.

Even in the larger ‘real’; bookstore, the endcaps and special displays are funded as advertising by publishers. That’s a business decision in a free country.
However, so many other books are shy flowers with three months to be purchased or stripped, cover returned to the publisher and the body of the book in the dumpster. If they happen to be on a bottom shelf because of the vagaries of shelving and number, they may be more like weeds to be trampled. Top shelf isn’t much better from my viewpoint, but of course, I am five feet tall. The whole scenario is enough to make a reader or author feel faint.

Then there’s the fact that print review sources are shrinking. That means more attention for the ‘big books’ that you can’t miss anyway, less for the others. Look for full page reviews of the megasellers and no page reviews for most of the midlist. Too bad, so sad.

Even libraries, long the treasured location for creative and serendipitous browsing, are not immune to this. Many of us, including grouchy little me, use the online catalogue to select titles and dash in to pick up my selection without checking to see what else is available. Of course, they are titles or authors that I already know about.

Plus more and more books don’t even have a physical manifestation: they’re e-books or they’re downloadable audio books. How do you find out about them?

So that’s my point: if you love a book that is not an international bestseller or a major frontlist baby for a huge publisher, then tell people about it. It will feel the love! Here are some things you could consider. They’re all free and most only take a minute!

Tell your reading friends.
Tell your local librarians.
Tell a bookstore owner.
Tell your book club.
Tell strangers on a bus.
Be seen with the book! Read it in the doctor’s waiting room, on a plane, in a slow grocery line. Someone’s bound to ask. But feel free to volunteer the information.

Don’t get out much? No problem!
Tell your Facebook buddies.
Tell your Twitter followers.
Link to a nice review.
Comment on the author’s blog or Facebook page.
Every one of these takes almost no time. A minute. Or a quick flap of the tongue. But in this networked world any one can make a difference.

Have a few more minutes? Write a quick review online or rate the book on an online site or online bookseller. You won’t just be dishing out stars. You’ll be one!

Lastly: Tell the author. Most authors have a website with a contact email. It’s a lonely old world out there and it could get lonelier with all these invisible books, bookstores closing and shrinking book review sections. So give an author a boost! Every author writes with the reader in mind. Without the reader, the story doesn’t matter. If you’re a happy reader, let the person know that their book touched you in some way.

I know that’s true. My latest book hit the shelves this week (last week I was chewing my nails about it!) and I have been grateful for every positive comment since.

This month I’m looking forward to some forthcoming books: Vicki Delany’s Among the Departed and D.J. McIntosh’s The Witch of Babylon. I’ve already given them an advance shout out!

Mary Jane Maffini rides herd on three (soon to be three and a half) mystery series and a couple of dozen short stories. Her thirteenth mystery novel, The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder, which hit the bookshelves last week, is brimming with names, no two the same.


  1. What a good post - we all have to become activists for the books we enjoy and the authors we support. Thanks

  2. So true and well said, Mary Jane! Every one of your tips can make a difference.

  3. Just wait till I have some "leisure" time... I'm looking forward to touting my favourite authors...

  4. This is so true - if you love a book, blab about it. Librarians are happy to get a book in, as are most bookstores, and most online book purchasing points have a space where readers can put up reviews. It only takes a few minutes, but it means a lot to the book - and the author who wrote it!

  5. Thanks everyone! It's good to get this feedback out on this particular limb!

  6. Super post! I have always supported the authors I love even if it is just a quick e-mail to say so. What would our world be without them. Looking forward to your new one.