Don’t Underestimate Reader Recommendations | Mads Holmen

Reading people

The web has grown to become the main source of information and discovery for many people, and they depend on it to help build their perception of the world. However, at the same time the amount of information available has exploded.

Just think of Spotify’s 30m music tracks – there’s enough content just there to fill hundreds of human lifetimes. YouTube receives more video in a minute than you could ever watch and Facebook must choose from an average of 2600 relevant posts when you fire up your feed.

So, to manage the constant stream of potential information from overloading us, we all daily interact with recommender systems now. Some well-known examples include Facebook and Instagram’s Feed, Spotify’s Discover Weekly, movie and book recommendations on Netflix and Amazon – but recommenders are everywhere, assisting you to do everything from booking your travel to dating or ordering food.

However, there is one problem. Diversity.

The public discourse has now accepted terms like filter bubbles, echo chambers and fake news, but we’ve still done preciously little to consider the systems design that caused this new trend.

I heard a panelist in Amsterdam last week say that he genuinely believed Facebook and Google could incidentally cause the next global conflict by virtue of creating a more polarized media landscape. They didn’t plan to, but by rewarding attention-grabbing content that drives engagement, these companies have created a perverse incentive structure for content creators.

Ev Williams, the founder of Medium and Twitter, often uses the car crash analogy. The current systems rewards extremes he says. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course, you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply more of them.

It interprets what we do, as the person we are.

When popularity and engagement drive the publishing industry, we lose sight of what gave the industry its privileged status in society in the first place – trust and human aspiration. So, while it is tempting for businesses to interpret popularity as a signal that people simply want more of that stuff, that would be a mistake. People also want diversity, because it serves a different purpose in our lives – that of our better, future self. In the recommender systems space, we call this problem exploitation vs exploration.

One of the editors on our blog, Sam Lay, wrote beautifully about why diversity is an important counteract to popularity – and why the reason is human aspiration.

“Every Monday my unambitious and unsophisticated musical choices stare me in the face. I can clearly see why Discover Weekly is choosing the songs it does and that’s slightly embarrassing.…My saves, shares and playlist adds on Spotify indicate my aspirational self, the music I would like to be associated with, whilst what I actually listen to often serves a practical purpose or satisfies a guilty pleasure.”

In short, he argues that there is a difference between what our actual self may do in the moment and what future our aspirational self is trying to steer us towards – and that any product that helped him be more of the latter would be worth more to him. Daniel Kahneman calls this the difference between our experiencing self and our remembering self.

The problem is often that aspiration and long-term product satisfaction cannot be measured as easily and immediately as popularity. However, we know from research that users actually tend to be more satisfied with diverse recommendations, i.e. being exposed to a wider variety of content, which can prompt the experience of serendipity — discovering something new when we were not expecting it. Those sorts of discoveries have disproportionate value.

So, if our ugly actual self stares us in the face every time we open Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the best business opportunity around might be to cater more for our better selves. We know from countless branding studies that aspirational brands can charge a premium on their products and services (think Apple vs Dell), so I see no reason to assume that this shouldn’t be true in the publishing space too.

When speaking to friends about this article, one thing that kept coming back was how bookstores like Foyle’s in London are offering superior value by having diverse staff pick tables and an aspirational store environment. People buy an experience, not just a book. It might feel counter-intutivie when you’re chasing short-term clicks, but that experience will become ever more valuable if it reaches out to our better selves, rather than just re-circulating our current tastes.

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The original article is here: https://www.thebookseller.com/futurebook/dont-underestimate-readers-when-it-comes-recommendations-642661

11 Reasons The Best Relationships Are With Books

a-woman-reading-a-book

Boyfriends come and go, best friends move away, and family drive you crazy…. but books, unlike people, are always reliable. If you’re a true bibliophile, than books will already have a special place in your life. You constantly surround yourself with them, and unlike your romantic partner’s crap, you never get mad when you find them laying around the house. You make sure that no matter where you go, you go together, and you always go to bed holding onto a book. Even if you’re at work or out with friends, you’re mind constantly wanders back to the same thing: books. You just can’t help it, they’re always on your mind and you miss them when you’re apart. Try as you might, but there’s no denying it: books are your true love, and one of the best relationships you have.

No matter how great your girl gang is or how wonderful the new love interest in your life may seem, you can’t escape the truth: your relationship with them will never be the same as your relationship with your books. Not sure if you believe me? Then here are 11 reasons that the best relationships are with books.

1. You Prefer Going to Sleep With A Book Over A Person.

While your partner hogs the blanket and snores in your ear, books never do that to you. Sure, they may leave lines on your face when you fall asleep reading, but can you really blame the books? You’d much prefer waking up to find yourself surrounded in novels than in your partner’s drool.

2. Books Are Always There To Catch Your Tears.

When books make you cry, which they do often, they are also the ones there to catch your tears, and they do it without complaining about how you look when you cry, or telling you to blow your nose.

3. The Bookstore Is Your Regular Date Spot.

If you spend your Friday nights cruising the fiction aisle with a few new books in your arms, then chances are you have a better relationship with books than you do the friends you ditch on weekends to stay home and read. Hey, no judgement here.

4. You Go Everywhere Together.

Whether it’s on the train to work, on vacation, or just out to the bar, you and books go everywhere together. You’d never dream of leaving the house without one, unlike your partner who you don’t mind leaving behind for some alone time with your new novel.

5. They Give You Butterflies In Your Stomach.

From the subtle romance to the hot-and-heavy sex scenes, books always find a way to give you all the good feelings. Can you still say that about the partner who shamelessly burps and farts in your presence? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

6. You Spend A Lot Of Alone Time Together.

You can truly tell if you like someone (okay, something) if you find yourself having a lot of one-on-one time together. In the case of books, there’s plenty of that.

7. Even Though You See More Than One At Once, No One’s Feelings Get Hurt.

Your books understand they aren’t the only one, and unlike your romantic partners, they never get jealous when you’re juggling multiple books at once. They understand your unquenchable need for good storytelling, and they never judge.

8. No Matter How Much You Yell At Your Books, You’re Books Never Yell Back.

You can get as mad at you want at your books for having terrible plot twists or for killing off your favourite characters, but yell as loud as you can, and books will never raise their voice to you. They’re here for you, to let you vent, and isn’t that what we all want in a relationship?

9. You’re Constantly Talking About Them To Friends.

At brunch, when you’re out shopping, or on a girl’s night out, the story is always the same: you cannot shut up about the book you’re reading. Whether you’re friends asked or not, you can’t help but gush over your current selection, and you don’t even care if anyone is listening. You won’t hide your love, no matter how many eye rolls you get.

10. They Are Always There For You At The End Of The Night.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or who with, books are always happy to see you at the end of the night. Because the best relationships are the ones you can count on, always.

11. You Can’t Get Them Off Your Mind.

Whether you’re at work or out with friends or even laying around with your partner, you can’t help but let your mind wander back to the same thing: books. They’re always on your mind. True love? I’d say so.

Via: https://www.bustle.com/articles/11-signs-books-are-the-best-relationships

How to Make Time For Reading | 7 Tips

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WHY

“Reading for pleasure is so important for emotional health,” says Yale linguistics professor Kenneth Pugh. “It’s good for the soul.” It also strengthens creativity by challenging us to do more “interior” work – Pugh likens it to weight lifting for the mind. (And whose brain doesn’t need a bit of a workout?) “The author invites you into the world they created, but what that world looks, feels and sounds like is totally up to the reader,” says Reagan Arthur, senior vice president and publisher at Little, Brown and Company. “When you connect with a book, a relationship develops between you and the author that then expands to embrace all the readers who’ve shared that experience and form a unique community.”

HOW

1. Don’t leave home without it – a book or reading device, that is. Having something on hand means you can sneak in a few pages while commuting, waiting at soccer practice, standing in line at the post office or whenever you find yourself with a bit of free time.

2. Pencil it in. Half your life is scheduled, so be sure to add in the fun things too. Block out time on your calendar, even if it’s just 20 minutes. Think of it as your daily reading assignment and stick to it.

3. Make a swap. Trade an hour of your latest Netflix addiction for some quality book time.

4. Keep a book on your nightstand – and your phone in the other room.

5. Make it a habit to read a chapter before bed. You may even find you fall asleep faster.

6. Always have another book ready on deck so that you can dive right in.

7. Don’t worry about reading in short snatches. It does add up, and those snippets can leave you wanting more.

WHAT

“A great bookseller or librarian can’t be beat for steering you to the right book,” says Arthur. “Author interviews also often lead me to books I love.”

Check out these helpful podcasts, best-seller lists and sites for inspiration:

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast

Slate’s Audio Book Club

The New York Times Best Sellers

Goodreads.com

2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge

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Via: http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/books/how-to-make-time-for-reading-7-easy-tips/

10 Weird Habits Of Book-Lovers That Non-Readers Don’t Understand

weird habits of readers

We all have unique hobbies that come with their own set of quirks, but sometimes it seems that book lovers have some weird habits. Admit it: If you love to read, you have a long list of little things you do because of this hobby, and your friends who don’t share a love of books just don’t get it. You’ve tried to explain, but for some reason, non-readers sometimes just can’t relate to your bookish struggles. While they’re busy with their own hobbies, they’re staring at you wondering what in the world you’re doing.

Simultaneously, your fellow book lovers are staring at you because they’ve definitely been in your shoes before. I always feel an affinity with fellow readers, because I can’t help thinking that they understand a very important part of me, and I understand an important part of them. Which means we both understand the weirdness that comes with the territory.

Whether you love to read literary fiction, YA, nonfiction, or any other number of genres, just being a book lover puts you in a very special group of people. So never fear. We literature aficionados can completely understand all those weird habits that you have… even if non-readers don’t.

1. Leaving Books In Random Places

You have a bookshelf, but you’ve also left books in other (admittedly weird) places. It’s not unusual for you to wake up, roll over, and disturb a pile of novels you left amidst the covers. And pretty much every nook and cranny of your living space is full of books, because who can fit everything on a bookshelf??

2. Completely Missing A Conversation Because You’re Reading

Some people need peace and quiet to read, but you could lose yourself in a book and miss an entire conversation. Your friend could be abducted by an alien and return… and you’d still be reading when they got back.

3. Being Really Frugal… Except When It Comes To Books

You’re SO good with your money… until you walk into a bookstore. Suddenly, you’re just throwing stacks of bills at the cashier so you can get that beautiful copy of Pride and Prejudice that you NEED. Never mind the fact that you still have a TBR pile to rival the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

4. Spending Hours In A Bookstore Or Library

Speaking of bookstores, you could spend a lot of time in one. And libraries are basically black holes to you, because when you walk in, it’s the morning, and when you walk out, it’s dark outside. Still, you have no better happy place than a room full of books.

5. Talking For A Weirdly Long Time About The Smell Of Books

Every book lover has waxed poetic at one point or another about the smell of books. And when you pick up a new book in the bookstore, the first thing you do is give it a sniff. Ah, l’amour!

6. Talking About Fictional Characters As If They’re Real

You’ve had long, drawn-out conversations with fellow book lovers about fictional characters, as if they’re real people. Because in a way, they are real to you. And when non-readers ask who you’re talking about and you try to explain, they’re completely mystified by your intense dedication to the personal life of someone who exists only on the page. It’s fine; let them be confused. You know how much it matters.

7. Being Very Particular About How You Arrange Your Bookshelf

Maybe you arrange your bookshelf alphabetically, or by colour, or by a complicated system based on your current favourites. Whatever the system, you hate to have it disrupted, and you are very particular about the overall aesthetic of your bookshelf.

8. Getting Into Heated Arguments About Literature

If someone doesn’t like your favourite book, that is complete justification for an all-out argument. In fact, few things get you more heated than arguing about books. You can tolerate most things, but if your partner/friend doesn’t feel the same as you do, that’s grounds for divorce.

9. Having Strong Feelings About Book-To-Movie Adaptations

Speaking of book-related arguments, you’ve had a couple about book-to-movie adaptations. Whether you loved or hated the movie version, if your favourite book was turned into a movie, you probably have very strong feelings about it. (Also, you’re still upset that you weren’t asked to star in it.) You know exactly which bits they cut, and whether the dialogue was used word-for-word.

10. Packing A Suitcase Full Of Books

Yes, it is necessary to have two suitcases: one for clothes, and one for books. Because even if non-readers don’t understand, you know how important it is to always be prepared. And being prepared means having plenty of reading material at the ready.

Via: https://www.bustle.com/articles/172166-10-weird-habits-of-book-lovers-that-non-readers-dont-understand