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MBM: 7 Tips for Reading in the Digital Age, by JoLynne Lyon

Welcome to the fifth day of MARCH BOOK MADNESS!

JoLynne Lyon is here today talking about reading in a post-bookstore world. JoLynne participated in last year’s MARCH BOOK MADNESS, when she talked about 10 Marketing Tips (What Not to Do). You can read it here. She has a great sense of humor, and I loved her thoughts. This year, I’m excited to have her back!

JoLynne’s talking about the changes in the book world from a reader’s perspective. I don’t think anyone in the book world knows where things will settle — authors, publishers, or readers — but I know there have been and will continue to be new and exciting changes in the way we read our favorite stories.

So…here’s JoLynne:



Reading in the Digital Age, by JoLynne Lyon

The chaos of the publishing world is so bad, it’s hitting readers, too. Beloved bookstores have closed. The remaining ones are devoting more and more space to merchandise that has nothing to do with reading. It’s harder to browse a bookshelf.

If you’re waiting for me to say you’ll like online bookishness better, I can’t. But I can offer some ways I’ve made the most of my reading experience in a post-bookstore world.



1) I console myself by reading everywhere

Just two years ago, I was telling people I’d never read a whole volume on my phone. Today I do the bulk of my reading on a small screen. In bed. Sometimes while Husband sleeps.

If I need to de-stress, I’ll find a quiet café and whittle down my reading pile over lunch. E-reading makes it possible to work a little more literature into my day.


2) I use Goodreads

I’m not saying is perfect. Sometimes an author’s friends will pump up a mediocre book, other times cranky reviewers will perform a drive-by shooting on a good piece of writing. But the site offers a variety of viewpoints from ordinary people.

It was on Goodreads that I found the latest book I couldn’t put down—a story so fantastic that my inner editor shut off completely, and I got lost in the action and beautiful writing.

(Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns, if you’re wondering.)


3) I talk about what I love

— even if I can’t do it while sitting across from my reading buddy in a bookstore. (Wow, that was a sad, nostalgic image. A moment of silence, please… OK, I can move on now.) On one of my stress-reduction lunch and reading breaks, I ran into a part in the plot that… OMG, I just had to text my author friend Amber Argyle, who recommended the book. (She’s on Goodreads, by the way. Look her up!)




We weren’t face to face, but that didn’t stop us from doing one of my favorite reading-related activities: talking about the things that make a book great.


4) I crowd source

More than once, I’ve asked for book recommendations on Facebook. This has made for a more varied reading experience, and introduced me to authors I wouldn’t have tried if I hadn’t asked.


5) I bargain-hunt

Author friends and writers I follow on Twitter often tweet when their book is free—or at a hefty price reduction—on Amazon. What’s more, they’re hoping to move up the Amazon sales rankings during these brief promotions, so they actually want you to get their work at a discount. I’m still discriminating, because a book isn’t just money, it’s time. But I’ve picked up some good books this way, and tipped off friends and friends of friends.

While the reduced-price Amazon sale is often used by up-and-coming writers, established authors do it too. I’ve downloaded free stories by David Farland and the complete Sherlock Holmes collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


6) I experiment 

I can’t hide my sorrow at the loss of my favorite bookstore, but if there’s a giant silver lining, it’s this: Authors are now free to explore techniques and forms that traditional publishers wouldn’t have printed.

Short stories and novellas abound in electronic format, and they can be delightful. (Why does everyone say there’s no market for short fiction?)

My favorite recent, quick read was The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson.


7) I don’t forget the low-tech joys of reading

I can read at the bus stop, but my favorite reading spot is still outside in the summer with a view like this:




Or by the fire in the winter, when outside looks like this:




And my favorite way to talk about what I read is still around the dinner table with my kids, or face to face with my husband or friends.


Those are my favorite tips for reading in the digital age. What are yours?



JoLynne Lyon is a wife, mom, PR type, recovering journalist, and writer.

You can find her on her blog,, or on Twitter @Jensenborger6.




Thanks, JoLynne! I love the tips.

Five years ago, I swore I’d never read a book on a device. I think many of us were in that same boat. However, I got a Kindle Fire for my birthday awhile back, and I love it!

It’s so convenient to have a five or six ‘books’ in my purse when I’m in the carpool line every day, sitting in a doctor’s office, or just wherever I happen to have an extra five or ten minutes. Having a book so easily accessible turns my wait time from something annoying into something I look forward to.

(I have several books on my Kindle I got free on one of those promotion days JoLynne mentioned. Awesome!)

Also, I used to rely on my close friends to find my next new read, but thanks to the digital age, it’s easy for me to see not only what my favorite authors are up to, but to find so many great books I might never have heard of otherwise. Like JoLynne said, there are definitely some silver linings out there.

The publishing/book world is definitely changing. We may not like all the changes — I might not like all the changes — but at the same time, I’m reading now more than I ever did.

Thanks again for the ideas, JoLynne!

What are your tips for reading in a digital age? What positive changes are you seeing in the book world? What do you miss? Join the discussion below.




Don’t miss any MARCH BOOK MADNESS posts. Subscribe here or enter your e-mail address below. #marchbookmadness

You can read more about March Book Madness here, but basically it’s an excuse for me to discuss everything about writing, editing, and reading books with some amazing authors and readers.

Fun, fun, fun!


Here’s the schedule:

The collective talent listed above . . . Wow! It’s going to be a great month.

Check out last year’s MARCH BOOK MADNESS here.


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