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Book Discovery: How Many ‘Touchpoints’ To Purchase?

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Social reading site Goodreads says the primary way its users discover new books to read is through search.

Goodreads presented new data about the habits of its 7 million users at Tools of Change this week. Goodreads users added 110 million books to their virtual shelves in 2011, and they are adding 14 million more every month. They’ve added 63 million books to their “to-read” shelves, and Goodreads considers those the books they’ve discovered.

Goodreads defines discovery as “all the touchpoints in the mind of the consumer it takes them to decide to purchase and read a book.” That can be conversations, e-mails, tweets, Facebook posts, IMs, blog posts, pins, comments and so on. And Goodreads says it takes about six to twelve touchpoints in the mind of the consumer
to get to a purchase.

Often, discovery is through search on the site. Nineteen percent of Goodreads users said their primary mode of discovery was search — when they hear about a book somewhere, search for it and add it to their to-read list. Search gets the “long tail,” less popular books:

Thirteen percent of Goodreads users primarily found books through the site’s recommendation engine, which uses data based on the books they’ve read and rated to deliver new suggestions. Goodreads Recommendations are “designed to hit the mid-list sweet spot,” books that are not big, popular titles. “Avid” readers — which Goodreads defines as people who read at least 49 books per year, or about one a week — are more likely to discover books through Goodreads Recommendations than “casual” readers, who read a book a month or less.

That’s why Goodreads recommends that publishers of mid-list titles “focus on marketing to readers of your comparable titles. They will put your book on the right lists and ensure the recommendation algorithm picks it up.”