There are alternatives if you have time.

Serendipity is my word for today. I planned to write a blog about ways to find new and exciting books some time ago. This week, as I planned what I would write in my head, I had two conversations that in the end helped me shape today’s offering.

The first was with a mum asking where I find such interesting books to review as she could never find anything like them in the local book shop.

My second arose while at a craft class when one lady said to me I know what my children like, but I can only find one or two series like that in the shops, then I am stuck.

While many of the authors featured on the shelves of local book stores are great, they are only the tip of the iceberg, I explained. ‘Where do I find the rest of the iceberg?’ was her quick response.

The Time Factor

After these two conversations lamenting the fact that most book shops have the same books by the same authors, I came to the conclusion we might all be our own worst enemies.

While we are quite happy to nip into a book shop in the local mall to quickly pick up something for ourselves or our children to read. Some people even branch out and look for the free and cheap reads online. What we rarely ever do is take some time browse and search for something new.

I was spoilt when I lived in the UK. They have large bookshops you can lose yourself in for hours, with selections we in Australia can only dream of. However, if we take some time, we can actually go places in the real world and online where we can browse through some interesting and different books.

In the Real World

Book Festivals and Book Fairs

One way to find new authors to read is go on line and find out if there are any book fairs in your local area. These will feature many established writers, but many emerging and self-published writers will also attend. A quick internet search showed me there is an event on in Sydney next weekend called Books by the Bridge

Specialist Shops

Another way to get a better selection of books you are interest in is to look on line for specialist bookshops in your area. Taking my own advice I decided to do a quick search of good children’s bookshops in Sydney and came up with the Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft, and Abbey’s Bookshop in the city. I now have two shops to add to my list.

Second Hand Shops

Another great way to find a variety of books is to go to second hand book stores. All right, some a pretty bad, but sometimes you can find one that is well worth your time. I love second hand book shopping when on holiday. I have been in may average stores, but one I really loved was Boobooks in Armidale NSW. I also had fun browsing through the book collection in Terrace Collectables in Kiama. One I cannot wait to visit is Hard to Find Books in New Zealand. I hope to get there on my visit home this year. A quick search on the internet will find you some gems I am sure.

Finding Books on the Internet

The great this about all these places are you can find heaps of different books and actually pick one up, read a little, and see if you like it. What if you do not have the time or ability to travel, well there is always the internet.

I am sure I heard a collective gasp as you read that. Who has time to look for books on the minefield that is the internet? You could get sucked in and not come out for days. Also, how do you know if you will actually like a book you find on the internet, especially if you buy a paperback version? With all these indie and self-published authors how do I know the quality is good? The good news is I have some hints and tips.

Some of you may know last year I delved into the world of self-publishing last year, and as I learnt the trick to promoting your material on line, I also found some great places people can find books, and try books.

Using Tools on Online Booksites

The good news is some of you may already be buying books by indie and self-published authors. They are widely available on Amazon, Booktopia and in fact all the traditional stores you purchase from. In most cases the only way to tell if they are self-published is that they will not be promoted by a traditional publishing house like Harper Collins or Scholastic etc. One way to check out some of these authors is to look at the recommended and promoted books on these sights.

Try searching for an author or book you like, scroll down tot he also like options and you will find a range of other books in the same genre. Have a look at a few of these. It should only take a few moments, and you might actually find something new and different to read.

Free, Cheap and Review Book Sites

When buying through many of these online bookshops you get a chance to read and excerpt to see if you like the book, but if you are a little braver and have something you can download a digital version of a book too, you can really test out some of these new authors.

Many authors load free or cheap books and short stories on to websites such as prolificworks.com, bookfunnel.com, freebooksy.com and barginbooksy.com, and the app readercoin. The idea is readers will maybe sign up to a newsletter or a facebook page and read more of your work. For a reader it is a great, cheap way to find new books.

Join Groups and Newsletters and Follow Authors

Following authors you like, signing up to their newsletters or doing book groups on facebook may seem like a pain just to try a new book, but if you think about it, it is a no cost way to keep up to date with new and cheap reads in your favourite genres.

One of my reviews next month will be from a book I found by joining the facebook group YA Fantasy Books. Also, some of the newsletters I receive have updates not only on the author I originally followed, but also details of new books by other similar authors. The self-publishing community is very supportive in that way.

Review and Promotion Groups

Two other tools I use to find books are Goodreads.com and Bookbub. If you sign up to Goodreads you can track books you are reading and write review, but it will also recommend similar books for you to read. You can join reader groups and get recommendations, or you can just browse and read other reader reviews.

Bookbub sends you out newsletter at frequencies you set in areas you are interested in. These are new releases by big names, as well as some of the better selling indie authors.

Independent Publisher Sites

The final way to find some different books is to find independent publisher sites. I found the Della Mortkia Series on Lulu.com, but there are other sites such as xlibris and pegasus publisher to name a couple, where you can find new authors to read. These sites sell books directly to customers and have some really interesting reads.

If you avoid your bookstore in the mall, take some time and think outside of the box, might just find some new and exciting reading options for you and your children.

Tired of the Same Old Book Selection?

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