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07 February 2016

Book Recommendations Series | Survey Results

Happy February, everyone! Remember my Book Recommendations Series? Check out these posts if you've forgotten what I'm talking about (I know, we've all slept since then):
  1. The Receiving Survey
  2. The Finding Survey
  3. The Giving Survey
The official surveys are closed, but the comments on those posts are still open if you want to add to the conversation.

Let's take a look at the results, shall we?

Please note: This is a MASSIVE post, but I like to have info like this all in one place for future reference, so take your time digesting it all!

The Receiving Survey

1. Do you like getting unsolicited book recs?

All responses were on the positive side -- no one said they hated getting unsolicited recommendations.

2. How do you respond when someone recommends a book that sounds appealing to you?

Seems like the respondents have a variety of ways of dealing with your to-read lists. Some folks chose multiple responses to this question, too.

3. How do you respond when someone recommends a book that does not sound appealing to you?

Really, y'all? I'm surprised by the percentage of "buy it anyway" here. It's interesting that so many of us tend to trust other people's judgement about what we ought to be reading so much.

4. Are you more likely to trust book recs from a specific person? Who, and why?

I guess it's no surprise that in a survey on a blog that was advertised on social media, most of the respondents would be comfortable getting book recommendations from their online friends. It must be because of the community aspect -- we choose to hang around people who share our own interests/tastes on the Internet, so of course we believe we can trust their opinions!

5. Has anyone who recommended a book to you ever asked you later what you thought about it?

I'm glad to see that so many interesting conversations are being sparked by shared reading experiences.

6. What do you say if you read a book someone recommended but you hated it?

This set of responses -- overwhelmingly honest about the book hate -- is particularly interesting in light of the responses to questions 3 and 5. Lots of people will try out a book that they're not really interested in just on the recommendation of a friend, and lots of people have had interesting conversations about books that were recommended to them, but hardly anyone is shy about speaking up when they disliked whatever they read. Maybe this means that most of us are pushovers when it comes to book-pushers, but we're also able to talk openly with those book-pushers if we don't end up liking what they're pushing?

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The Finding Survey

Do you actively seek out book recommendations on a regular basis?

No big surprise here -- most bookish people are always on the lookout for new titles to add to their TBR lists, but a significant minority relies mostly on serendipity.

How do you find those recommendations? 

Most respondents chose more than one option for this question, and we even had a couple of write-ins. The "Other" options included being familiar with an author's previous work, asking friends for recommendations, and just being drawn to nice cover artwork.

What do you do with those recs once you've found them?

I'm pleased that at least a few people will turn to the library, haha. But of course the good old to-read/TBR list option is the crowd favorite.

Do you keep track of who recommended any given book to you? If yes, how?

Most folks just don't keep track of where they got the idea to read any particular book. I know I don't.

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The Giving Survey

How frequently do you think you recommend books to other people?

Looks like most of y'all end up recommending books to people once a week to once or twice a month. I'm glad to see that no one answered that they never recommend books -- everyone should have at least an occasional opportunity to share their love of reading with other people.

Do you recommend books whenever you see an appropriate opportunity, or do you wait to be asked?

It's funny to imagine that over 1/3 of you respondents are book-pushers who INSIST on sharing the book love, haha.

Are you more likely to recommend a book to some people than others, or do you prefer a scattershot approach?

The responses to this question were interesting to me for 2 reasons. First, no one answered that they had to recommend books as part of their job (bookseller, librarian, etc.), which I was surprised by. Second, someone took the time to write in an extra "Other" answer: "If someone I don't know well asks me I'll try to find something I think they'll like!"

Do you expect people who've read something you recommend to discuss it with you afterwards?

It seems that even though most of us enjoy talking about books with others, most people won't try to insist on following up with someone after a book recommendation. I was surprised by the number of responses in the "I don't want to know, what if they hated it???" camp, though.

How do you react if someone isn't interested in your recommendation?

Overwhelming shrug reaction here! Seems like a pretty healthy choice to me. But oh, you poor sensitive souls who end up crying over it.... That was meant to be a joke option, so I hope if you picked it you're laughing about it too, instead of actually crying! Now I'm worried about people crying over book rec rejections.

How do you react if someone read something you recommended, but hated it?

Well, most of y'all are pretty nice about figuring out where your recommendation went wrong and trying to find something more appealing for your recommendee... but a few of you have anger issues, haha. The "Other" response in this case: "Find out why they hated it and secretly harbor feelings of anger towards them." Passive-aggressive book-pushing, I like it.

Are there any books, series, or authors in particular that you just can't stop pushing at people?

This was an optional question, so I was pretty tickled that a few people chose to respond:
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  • The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Cormoran Strike series by Robert Gilbraith/J.K. Rowling
  • Books by Chevy Stevens
  • Books by Brandon Sanderson (#SandersonArmy)
  • Books by Anne Bishop, Jacqueline Carey, and Robin McKinley

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The Big Picture

Before getting into it, a disclaimer -- the above analysis is not scientific in any way! The sample size was too small to be really significant, and the percentages are based only on the number of times each response was picked (where in some cases people were allowed to chose more than once response). Plus, it's not exactly a random sampling of the general population, is it?

Overall, though, we can see a few trends. Most of you bookish people like talking about books with other bookish people -- big surprise, huh? And most respondents seem to have a pretty healthy way of dealing with rejection (either their own or someone else's), but a significant minority get super passionate about their favorite/most hated books and they are just not gonna back down.

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Book recommendations can get tricky, but I think we can gather from these responses that there might be a couple of "best practices" we can try to follow.

First, people are more likely to trust unsolicited book recs that come from people they know either on or offline, even though when they are actively seeking recommendations they'll get them from all kinds of places (publishers, authors, pro book reviewers, and so on). So, if you really want other people to read a particular book, your best bet is to talk about it with people you know personally or share it with your bookish tribe online... or become a book reviewer for Kirkus or something, haha.

Second, talking about a book with someone after they recommended it to you/you to them can be a little bit nerve-wracking for some people, but will usually result in an interesting conversation. Beware if you're particularly sensitive about how other people feel about your favs, though; most readers are not shy about it when they hate a book.

So... what do you think about the survey results? Anything surprising to you? Do you think these results might apply to the general population, too, or do you think they're only applicable to the bookish types?

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