Publishers’ Websites – Better Than Ever

reviewcoffee After seeing LinnieGayl’s piece on author websites, I started thinking not just about author’s sites, but about publisher’s websites as well. I’ve been reading romance off and on since I was in middle school, but I didn’t start following it online until after college. The websites I remember from the late 90s were fairly spartan. Some had lists of authors, a few featured cover blurb information on various books, but features such as blogs and online ordering seemed almost unheard of. For someone looking for book ideas and information, it was very frustrating!

Things have come a long way, though. Several years ago, Harlequin started making its website much more streamlined and customer-friendly. It still has information about authors, but now there are online reader boards, I can order books from the site(something Dorchester has had for years, to my delight), and see a few months’ worth of upcoming releases. Avon has also recently added a “Browse Inside” feature to let readers preview books as well as a feature similar to our “If You Like…” lists that suggests other authors that a fan of one writer might like. These are all great features, and I’ve seen them spreading to other publisher’s websites. It’s becoming a much more user-friendly world out there, and I really appreciate it.

In addition to the features being added to the websites themselves, more and more publishers are putting information out there in blogs. The crew at Avon has a fun, informative blog and several of the Harlequin lines also have blogs. Some, such as the Harlequin Historical authors’ blog, are author driven, but others such as I Heart Presents and the Paranormal Romance Blog, were created (at least in part) by folks who work for Harlequin. Leah Hultenschmidt over at Dorchester also has a good blog that not only gives good information from the editor’s perspective, but also features several months’s worth of upcoming book summaries – a feature I love when I’m planning what I want to read!

So, what do I look for most from publisher sites? The bottom line would be information. I want a site with lots of book/author information that is organized and easy to navigate. I like to see:
- online ordering
- information on books by a particular author
- summaries of current and backlist books, extra points if there are summaries of a few months’ of upcoming books
- a searchable database – it’s frustrating to go to a site and just find all of the books in one giant list

Some of the other features out there such as the blogs, the informational pieces found on some websites and the interactive features created by some publishers on Facebook, Shelfari or similar sites definitely make browsing much more pleasurable, but well-organized information is the necessity for me. So, when you’re out there browsing, what do you like to see on publishers’ websites?

- Lynn Spencer

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8 Responses to Publishers’ Websites – Better Than Ever

  1. I’m probably biased, but I really like the St. Martins romance site, She Loves Hot Reads ( because it’s full of extras and free reads from authors. The authors are clearly listed on the lefthand side, and there’s a categorization feature where you can browse by paranormal or contemporary or whatever. I think it’s very usable and fun!

  2. Lynn Spencer says:

    @Louisa Edwards Ah, bias indeed(I just checked out your site). :-) I do like the St. Martin’s site, too, though.

  3. Mari Tyne says:

    I find eHarlequin pretty difficult to navigate, actually. I went there looking for Susan Mallery’s ebook WILD HEARTS, because I loooooove the Lone Star Sisters books and wanted to read the prequel. I searched for Wild Hearts. The first few results:

    Mountain Wild by Stacy Kearne
    Wild Wolfe by Karen Whiddon
    Irish Hearts by Nora Roberts

    So then I searched within the results for “Mallery.” What came up was a discussion of Wild West Life by Susan Mallery…from 1998! WHAT?!

    I finally found it, but they didn’t make it easy. It was a great book… funny! Why don’t they want to sell it? (Here it is, to save someone else the hassle.

  4. Katie Mack says:

    The publisher website I’m at most often (probably a couple times a week) is Harlequin. I love all the sales and promotions, especially Freebie Fridays.

  5. LeeB. says:

    I like to peruse publisher websites to see what new books will be coming out in the next three or four months.

  6. I must admit that I tend to shop *across* sites to get the information I need. One site will have all the reviews I want (Amazon is good for that), while another will provide good excerpts (Fictionwise sucks, for instance), while reader ratings is better on a different bookseller site, or I like to get ratings on a few sites before I chose. Plus, the covers on one site will be bigger and better to look at than another.

    So I’ll often end up with three or four browser windows open on three or four different publisher and book seller sites, as I cross-reference a book.

    No one site will give me all the information I need.

  7. Jean Wan says:

    I gotta say, I’m a regular visitor to Avon. Their browse inside feature is unbeatable, although their search regular plays up for me.

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