Thursday, June 14, 2012

Curation Not Selection is the Future

By C.J. West
Suspense. Creativity. Action.

I read a great article by Seth Godin this week talking about the changes in what we read. before the digital revolution much of what we read was published by a select group of companies. Those publications (books, magazines, and newspapers) were read primarily because they were scarce resources.

Only so many books and newspapers were published. So, even if your local newspaper offended your political sensibilities, you had no choice but to read it if you wanted to get the weather and sports scores.  Scarcity meant that our individual preferences took a back seat to what publishers decided to produce.

It’s no wonder that when we were freed to choose a news outlet that appealed to what WE wanted, those newspapers died.

Enter the digital revolution and the long tail. Now if you want to read historical fiction about George Washington being attacked by vampires and you know where to look, it exists.

Note: while writing this blog, I made up the idea of George Washington being attacked by vampires. I searched and found two books on the subject. The first is George Washington and Werewolves. Not far off!

My point here is that we have moved into an age where curation is far more important than selection.

What’s the difference?

In a nutshell, selection is choosing what is available. The big publishers controlled selection for years by choosing which books were published. Control of selection sailed when Amazon allowed authors to publish anything they liked. Pandora’s Box is open and there is no pressing the lid back on.

You can argue that some limits on selection might be good, and you might be right, but now we have entered the age of curation or guiding consumers through the maze of what is available to find something enjoyable and meaningful to them.

The key here is finding work that is meaningful to the person searching. Millions of blogs attempt to do this by providing reviews of books in a genre or topic area. You’ve all been on Goodreads, Shelfari and Library Thing.

In the last two weeks I’ve discovered Pinterest and created boards of my favorite novels, indie novels, movies, and poker books. The great thing for me is that Pinterest takes me seconds to bookmark something of interest and my followers can come and see the things I like in a visual pin board format that works for those of us who are visually oriented.

My prediction is that digital curators will become more and more important to authors and I suspect an explosion of digital curation will be fueled by the ingenuity of digital entrepreneurs.


  1. A thoughtful post that sent me to the dictionary to look up the meaning of curation, which is fairly new and not well defined.

    But the selection issue is key. The new digital availability of a nearly unlimited selection of books, news, and information sources, will lead consumers to seek out curators to help them make choices.

    I love living in a bountiful world of information!

  2. Okay, C.J., I've been avoiding Pinterest like the plague, but maybe, just maybe it has more value than I've seen on the surface.

    That might also mean I need to explore Listopia at Goodreads. You know, to assist the curators.

    Intriguing post!

  3. Thanks LJ and Peg.

    I think curators will have an especially large impact on indies. Don't we all wish we knew who those key curators would be?

  4. Lord knows I do! It would be nice to hone in on your target market like a laser!


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