Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Before Social Media

Back in the dark ages, before the Internet, computers, social media, etc., readers learned about books by word of mouth. For the young whippersnappers out there, word of mouth was when one person finished the book and raved about it to all their friends--via the telephone and face-to-face encounters. Certain authors made out very well on the word of mouth circuit--Danielle Steel, Rosemary Rogers, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and LaVryle Spencer to name just a few.

Bookstores and publishers issued brochures with information about up-coming releases. Readers followed their favorite authors with panting eagerness. And when a new book appeared in the bookstores, it was devoured with glee. It was a happening!

If a reader really loved a certain author's books, they could write a real letter to the author and generally they would receive a real letter in return--often in the author's own handwriting! In my twenties I received letters from several of my favorite authors, letters that individually addressed subjects I mentioned in my letters to them.

While I would be the first to appreciate electronic/digital books (primarily because I can adjust the font so I can actually read them without squinting), I'm not so sure the big social media circus has enhanced the rest of the reading experience.

I rarely receive a personal recommendation for books from another reader. And those I receive are all too often of the I-scratch-your-back, you-scratch-mine variety. Everyone seems to believe if they mention their book on Facebook, Twitter, or some other electronic billboard, that will do it.

With the white noise and tsunami of digital books threatening to engulf the market, I find myself withdrawing to the safety of those authors I'm familiar with and know I'll enjoy. I'm re-reading the books already on my virtual and actual bookshelves. And my dollars are going to replacing those I've read so often they're falling apart.

What would happen if we went back to the old way--passing on our personal recommendations when we finished a book we truly enjoyed? I don't know. But in this case, I really miss the old days...



  1. "...those I receive are all too often of the I-scratch-your-back, you-scratch-mine variety."

    I agree.I tend to read outside the box and rarely, if ever, read romance or erotica because it's all become too mechanical and rushed.

  2. I think that's what Goodreads is supposed to do, but... it's just another act in the circus.

  3. I think that because I (we) spend so much time on the internet I (we) forget that a large proportion of readers still do find books the old fashioned way... Being online so much has helped *me* to find some new authors and books to try but a lot of the people I talk to in the real world will continue to buy the authors they know, even if they are shopping for their Kindle.