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Interview with Ondrej Dyrka

We asked Ondrej Dyrka (Czech Republic) about his website:

What kind of criteria do you use when choosing a book to be featured on your site?
First of all, the book has been already reviewed on the site and my readers had the chance to make their opinion about it. Second, I try to find out the preferences of my visitors, simply because I'm there for them, not the other way around. Third, a part of my judgement is also made up from general acknowledgment of the book - controversy doesn't matter, but books despised from the first to the last page do not have place in the Featured category. What remains is my personal opinion - I'm more likely to feature a book I personally liked, but I know my taste for books may differ from others' and rest assured good books will find their place there, even if I didn't enjoy them.

How regularly or often do you add a new book feature?
The original idea was to change the book once per week but when my exams came along, I got overwhelmed and American Gods by Neil Gaiman stayed there for the whole month... Right now, I'm trying to maintain the 4 books per month ratio, albeit if my statistics show many visits, I'm more than inclined to let a particular piece of literature stay there a little longer.

If you are asked to list up to 10 most popular books to-date, how will the list look like?
That's a very tough question, especially because whenever someone comprises a list of any number of the best / worst books, it is nearly inevitable both to get affected by your personal feelings and judgements (which in turn leads to having quarrels with people with different tastes) and also it is very hard to establish how should you assess book's success. Through the number of sold copies? How many languages has it been translated to? The number of smiles it evoked?

However, once we establish that the list I'm about to present is based solely on my point of view, I have no evidence whatsoever to back up my claims and readers are more than welcome to disagree, here are the 10 books I deem to be the most popular:

• The Lord of the Rings
• Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)
• Dune
• Think and Grow Rich
• The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
• The Da Vinci Code
• 1984
• The Great Gatsby
• To Kill a Mockingbird
• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

When and what has motivated you to start the 'Most Popular Books' site?
The first entry was posted on 21st December, 2010; but regular postings began in the second half of February 2011 (once again determined by my exams). As for my motivation, there are three basic reasons:

• I've been reading a lot of books from a lot of genres all my life
• running websites and posting regularly is an excellent way how to improve my English since I'm not a native speaker
• I want to make a living off the internet by running websites and one of the best ways to start such a career is to choose your passion you're knowledgeable about - which certainly applies to me and books. Actually, all basic information can be found at the "MPB About" page accessible from the main index.

Do you foresee the book reading trends to change in a few years, like switching to ebooks totally instead of paper books?
Another excellent question. Besides books, I'm also a big fan of technology, I might even call myself a technocrat. People are often reluctant to switch their focus from regular books to their electronic alternatives, but let's face one major fact - once you write and print a solid book, it will remain like that until the end of time; however, you can manufacture an e-book reader and supply it with an infinite number of e-books which on the other hand require no resources at all - for me, that's an obvious way of economic utiliziation of resources.

From the book lovers' point of view though, classic paperback books have been around for so long that it's hard to imagine they'll somehow completely disappear, even if they had to stay only in museums. What's another con of regular books is that they're not susceptible to hardware errors like modern devices; in fact, some say our time might be viewed as a Dark Age for information in the future, simply because once some data are lost due to hardware malfunction, they're gone forever and nothing can retrieve them.

In other words: I expect a large shift towards e-books, yes, but paperback books won't extinct.

There is a saying 'Do not judge a book by its cover', in your personal opinion, what is the best way to judge a book before reading it?
Well, since the cover belongs to Arts and books themselves belong to Literature, which are two completely different branches, it makes no sense to apply this logic at all. Take 1984 from George Orwell as an example - most of the covers I've seen are definitely not visually appealing, yet the book itself is amazing. Essentially, books are entertainment goods and these spread by two major factors - quality and recommendations.

Quality is rather self-explanatory, but what about recommendations? Besides the obvious option of the small circle of your friends/family/etc., I strongly recommend to use the Internet. People love books all around the world and you can find literally millions of honest reviews from people just like you - not to mention that e.g. Amazon allows its customers to rate & review the goods they buy, books not excluded and there are also several great collaborative sites for book lovers, such as GoodReads.


Interview with Ondrej Dyrka Reviewed by JaamZIN on 12:17:00 PM Rating: 5
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