3 S.R. Johannes: Bookanistas The Reading Room

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Bookanistas The Reading Room

Today, Kim Anderson stops by to discuss The Reading Room, a new community for book lovers. 

Next Tuesday, Feb 14th I will join The Reading Room for a Valentine's Day chat at 7pm EST/4pm PT. To find out more information, join TheReadingRoom today. I will be discussing indie publishing, marketing and my books.

Hi Kim, thanks for stopping by. Tell us about yourself and The Reading Room.

My name is Kim Anderson I’m the Founder and CEO of TheReadingRoom and I live a long way from the US and UK in Sydney Australia.  .  It probably goes without saying that books and reading are my passion. After graduating from the University of Sydney I interviewed for two jobs while I pondered what I might do. The first was as a proofreader and the second as a personal assistant to a chartered accountant. The chartered accountant had a passion for figures of all kinds, and not books, so it was a huge relief when I received an offer to train as an editor. Apparently, I flunked the proofreading, but edited the text with flying colors!  I went on to work as a publisher for many publishing houses, and spent a couple of years in New York working at HarperCollins as a VP and Publishing Director. Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting many wonderful authors and the opportunity to discover many wonderful books. In New York, I was introduced to Shel Silverstein and entertained my son with his poetry for years – we still scream with laughter at the “Dog with Two Tails”, and The Giving Tree is still my number one choice for a gift. 

TheReadingRoom is a place where people can connect, share and recommend books they love. A place where readers can enjoy the variety of books on offer to them no matter what type of book they like to read. It was born and has grown from my passion for reading and true love of books.

What gave you the idea to start The Reading Room?

Reading and writing has always been a large part of my life. My sister Rae read tome at night in bed, mostly the Classics – we shared a room – her half was always neat and orderly, and mine was always ruffled and wrinkled. Even today my bed never looks as smoothly made as hers. But having someone read to you every night is a joy and we still share all our books comparing notes and introducing each other to new authors. 

When I returned to Sydney I was a founder of the first and still number one Internet portal in Australian called ninemsn. So it was only natural that at some time in the future, I would combine my Internet publishing experience with my passion for books. I wanted to create a place where readers could access information about authors and good books. One thing that used to get under my skin was the way in which literary criticism could be used to make writers and readers feel inadequate. Often critical analysis would leave me wondering if it was the same book I was reading. I didn’t get the sexual connotations of Miriam on the swing in Sons and Lovers or why the rolling hills and green pastures were sexual metaphors. So one of the important philosophies of starting TheReadingRoom was that it needed to be a place where reading was encouraged and readers of all levels and tastes could feel comfortable. It needed to be a place where you could meet like-minded readers, easily browse their bookshelves to discover new writers and new books. It needed to be structured and well organised just like my sister’s bedroom!

What does the Reading room do that other reading/book clubs sites don't offer?
    This is a difficult question to answer because I think for most book sites the ingredients are the same. It’s more about how you prepare and cook the cake. It’s the combination of a number of factors but there are two that I think are very important. First is the way our members can recommend books to each other. The best recommendations come from people you know or trust. They are people in your circle of influence. We try hard to ensure that it’s easy for members to recommend books to each other and in particular to solicit recommendations from people who are very familiar with what they read. 

    The second is the combination of member and expert reviews.  Expert reviewers provide knowledge and trust when you are not in a position to tap into your circle of trust or they have not as yet read the book in which you are interested.  This is why our published reviews from the New York Times, The Guardian and others are so important.  You want to be sure that they know what they are talking about. 

    Our independence also sets us apart. We have from the outset built our own database taking feeds from a range of sources. This enables us to create a single book profile for each of our titles and to include all the editions of that title in all formats and all countries or territories. We call this the spine of the site and although it is not visible to our members it is what gives us the ability to create different ways to discover new titles and authors quickly and easily. 

    What events do you have coming up?

    Where would you like to see TheReadingRoom in 5 years? 

    I can’t imagine a world without books or bookshops. So I hope that in five years time TheReadingRoom.com will be the place to discover and meet new authors and a great place to hang out with your reading friends, chat about books, and be as comfortable with our members as the big cosy armchair most of us curl up in to read.  

    We’re a very small and dedicated team and we treasure that. We all get involved and pitch in to get things done. We learn from each other and I hope that never changes. 

    Go join The Reading Room, (it is free :)!

    You can also find The Reading Room and join in book discussions on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to join The Bookanista Book Club on The Reading Room.

    For other Bookanista posts:


    Carolina Valdez Miller said...

    Great run-down of The Reading Room, Shelli. I think it's a wonderful site. Love that it's so user friendly.

    Monica said...

    I am a new GFC follower. I found you on the Mom Bloggers Club. I would love for you to stop by my site follow me back please. Also if you are interested go to reviews/giveaways link to enter to win a super cool 3D bike helmet if you have kids.

    tracythewriter said...

    What a great resource! I'll definitely have to check it out.

    Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

    Just coming back from signing up for it thanks to your post!

    andieclark said...

    I think this reading room needs some air conditioning installers so that those who will visit this room would feel comfortable.