Fact is, no reader that I know has a problem discovering what book to read next. There are thousands of years of classics to catch up on, not to mention last year's best seller or whoever-you're-obsessed-with-right-now's-backlist. I might not get around to paying $25 (or whatever) for the new Dave Eggers while it's in hardback, but that doesn't mean I have a discoverability problem. It means publishers should stop pushing the same old shiz and expecting the reading world to suddenly develop more publisher-guided reading taste. We're fine over here, reading our reads like gangstas.
But with books.
I thought back over my adult reading life (defined as the period starting when I began buying my own books) to see if, at any point, I had an issue with discoverability.
High School: I bought books by the boxful at used book sales and library book sales, mostly Penguin Classics/Bantam because I knew those would be good or were in some way important. I read a few modern books (Speak, Perks of Being a Wallflower) and looked out for books by the same authors and publishers. Discoverability problem: nope.
College: Book buying habits pretty much the same, book tastes evolved to more obscure classics, the lesser-known works of my favorite authors, and recommendations from friends and professors. Discoverability problem: I'm sorry, what? I can't hear you over the sound of all my friends telling me what to read.
Early-to-mid-20s: Still frequenting used book stores and library book sales, with the occasional spree at Barnes and Noble when they were selling their classics at buy one get one free. Discovered book blogs, found a few I trusted, started visiting indie bookstores for modern new releases. Discoverability problem: Sorry, still can't hear you over the sound of all these book blogs typing and shit. So.
Mid-20s-to-now: Library book sales are still my jam, mixed in with indie bookstores and the occasional B&N download to my Nook. Getting recs almost exclusively from book blogs and Twitter, along with picking upcoming releases that sound interesting from Edelweiss. Since my stable of modern authors I love is expanding, I'm always on the lookout for their backlist. Sometimes I just go to the library and walk around, grabbing whatever looks interesting (this is a new habit since I had kids and started frequenting library story time). Discoverability problem: EVERYONE JUST BE QUIET I CANNOT HANDLE MORE AWESOME SOUNDING BOOKS.
So, is the reader's discoverability problem real? Hold on, lemme think on it:
Nerp. And I don't have solutions for publishers about how to get x book into everyone's little hands, but this I know: it ain't our problem.