Shatzkin (2016) discusses the change to the publishing industry brought about since the advent of Amazon in 1995 – the big tech companies have caused a paradigm shift in how people find out about, search for and acquire books. This is leading to a change in how publishers will work to market books. Shatzkin makes it clear why publishers need to be aware of the tech company trends and techniques, but why is it important for librarians?
Librarians need to know where to go to find out about new books and to assess the quality of books. In this transition time we need to know the new ways related to the tech giants but also the old ways that may still be used by publishers. To get the widest variety of choice we need to combine the traditional and how to make them serve our needs rather than dictate choices to us. We can either exploit technological methods or be exploited by them.
Additionally, Shatzkin’s premise (2016) that in order to readjust themselves to the current situation requires publishers to develop an understanding of how the tech giants actually work, especially the roles of Google and Facebook in marketing and readers’ ‘discovery’ of books has relevance to librarians. Just as the publishers need to understand the workings of search engine optimisation and social media promotion and how they interact with more traditional methods of book marketing to regain some amount of control in the fate of their products (Shatzkin, 2015), so librarians need to understand these topics to retain some level of control in the fate of their library collections. An understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques can help librarians locate materials they desire for their collections (Schiller, 2013). In addition, Rushton and Funke (2011) and Schiller (2013) describe how SEO can help librarians connect patrons to relevant material more easily. To remain relevant and valued in this digital age and avoid the risk of having bureaucrats make hasty decisions regarding libraries and technology that they then come to regret, as in the Canadian case of Windsor Catholic School District (CBC News, 2011) we must understand and ride this wave of change or risk getting wiped-out by it.