Harnessing the Power of Sharing Books with Patrons

Presented by Becky Spratford

For Holston River Regional Library

March 9, 2017

Let’s Talk Book Talks

  • Power of sharing books
  • You are your community’s local book expert
  • Talk Among Yourselves: Jump Starting Your Readers’ Advisory
  • Informal Booktalking
    • booktalking in the stacks
  • Formal and prepared book talks
    • marketing genius
    • example book talk

Warm Ups

  • Take the pulse of your collection and the larger community conversation about books
    • Check return carts
    • Look at current displays
    • Bestseller lists
    • Daily book news
  • Have a range of go-to titles in mind
    • are they “on shelf?”

Booktalking in the Stacks: The Basics

  • Look for opportunities
  • Have an opening line
  • Remember: make sure book is on shelf!
  • Start with a soundbite
  • Keep the book on center stage
  • It’s a dialog— back and forth
  • Develop your own style and patter
  • Be enthusiastic

Practice, Practice, Practice

  • Create more opportunities to booktalk
  • Staff to staff at the desk
    • doubles as an advertisement of your expertise and willingness
  • Enlist the help of regular patrons
  • Set goals and create friendly competition
  • Remember this is fun! You are paid to talk about books

But I Don’t Want to Talk

  • Get nervous “performing?”
    • record
  • Prefer to write your booktalks?
    • annotated lists
  • Not confident on paper or with words?
    • displays
  • Different ways of “talking”
    • honors staff strength and patron preference

Join Forces!

  • Missouri Book Challenge
    • Share the load!
  • Meet Your Patrons Where They Already Are-- Goodreads
    • Staff picks
    • Patron Picks
  • Bridging the Physical-Virtual Divide
    • many more examples and ideas

Prepared Booktalks

  • What?
    • an enticing, prepared talk on a list of linked books
  • Where and When?
    • anytime people are gathered for a library event
  • Why?
    • endless marketing and circulation increase potential

Creative Booktalking for Adults

Definitions and Guidelines

  • Booktalk is a commercial enticing people to read the book
  • Effective booktalks lead to increased circulation
  • Don’t limit to new books
    • backlist is a booktalk’s bff
  • Know your audience
  • Do not summarize
  • Find a hook

What Kinds of Books Make Good Booktalks?

  • No single type is best
  • Hook to serve as central theme
  • What is NOT good
    • too complex, limited appeal or content
  • Mix: old and new, fic and nf, formats
  • Good covers!
  • Check your catalog

Order Matters

  • Take audience on a journey
  • Beginning: grab their attention
  • Middle: build to the climax
  • End: leave them satisfied but still wanting more!
  • Provide a visual either print or digital
    • to follow along and follow up

Talking Tips

  • Smooth transitions between books
  • Match the style of your presentation to the books
    • positive and peppy for happy books
    • somber for serious books
    • humor for funny books
  • Last book should be the most memorable!

It’s Showtime

  • Gather what you need ahead of time
  • Handouts
  • Books or nice pics of covers
  • Notes!
    • script
    • notecards
    • post-its on backs of covers/pics
    • whatever works for you

A Natural History of Hell


Jeffrey Ford

A Long December


Richard Chizmar

Swift to Chase


Laird Barron

This Way to the End Times

edited by

Robert Silverberg

What the #@&%

Is That?

edited by

John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror

edited by

Ellen Datlow

More Becky Examples

  • Watch a video that Massachusetts Library System made from a book talk I recorded for them
  • Tips and some example scripts for quick, informal booktalks

Last Minute Tips

  • Start small
    • Staff favs
    • NoveList Rec Reads lists
    • Library Reads
  • Don’t be afraid to fail
  • Keep practicing
    • with staff, friends, family
    • anyone who will listen
  • Spread the joy of a good read


Booktalking for TN 2017 - Google Slides