NPR's Book Concierge Is About Discovery And Diversity

The process behind this recommendation engine is the secret to its growth

The events of 2020 influenced our literary habits: The pandemic drove many Americans to reading. After the killing of George Floyd, the subsequent reckoning on anti-Black racism sparked a surge of interest in Black authors and a focus on underrepresented writers. NPR Books' most recent installment of its annual Book Concierge was bigger than ever, and highlights a diverse group of authors — and fits in with NPR's overall goals of both being more representative of its audience and expanding it.

Last year's eighth edition of NPR Books' crown jewel annual reading guide featured 383 titles — the most books showcased by the Concierge.

With many people working from home in 2020, and much of life's joy canceled or delayed, the Concierge team wanted the curated collection of recommended reads to be of lasting value, something readers could come back to over and over.

The Concierge, which lets you "mix and match tags to filter results and find the book that's perfect for you or someone you love," has proven to be popular over the years. Readers spent eight cumulative years looking at the 2019 edition, according to NPR Books. This most recent installment of the Book Concierge launched on Dec. 1. From its launch to Jan. 7, it got 1,897,466 page views from close to 1 million users. Both users and page views were up 20% or more over a comparable time last year. And visits to the 2020 Book Concierge have had almost quadruple the engagement time of an average NPR web story, making the investment a smart strategy in audience retention.

NPR's attention to a book is often a boon for an author, driving

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