Grub Street Reads – where did you go?

About six months ago I bookmarked in case I ever managed to publish my magnum opus. For those who do not know, Grub Street Reads provided an endorsement/seal to books that passed readability tests Β – so readers would know that endorsed indie books were free of glaring mistakes etc.

Having some objective standards seemed like a good idea back then and still seems like a good idea, however I’m feeling a little doubtful about where to go to have Vokhtah assessed.

Why? Because Grub Street Reads is no more. It is now calling itself Compulsion Reads. The change of name is reflected in a more upmarket looking website as well. Compulsion Reads is still offering endorsements but I wonder whether they will have an impact on readers. I’m sure some will have the old Grub Street Reads bookmarked, the way I did, but I’ll bet most readers just remembered the name. How will they find the site now?

I’m sure the owners of the original Grub Street Reads site had their reasons for the name change, but it seems a bit counter productive to me. After all, isn’t ‘branding’ meant to be the name of the game? Users learn to trust a particular brand and then return to it because they have positive expectations about the product. Imagine if Coke Cola changed their name to Black Sugar… or something [he he]. Just doesn’t conjure the same expectations now does it?

Branding takes a long time to establish, so even if the original name no longer describes the range of products offered by a company, they don’t change the name mid-stream. Which is why I’m disappointed that Grub Street Reads is gone because it was becoming a familiar brand online.

As things turned out, there were also other reasons why I didn’t submit Vokhtah to Compulsion Reads – I have no way of creating a pdf file and that was the only format open to me – but the branding, or lack thereof, was certainly a consideration.

I’ve been been approaching this name issue from the perspective of a writer, but what do actual readers think? Am I’m being unnecessarily anal about the value of a name?

I know some of you have only just started reading indie books because of the difficulty of finding good ones. Would you like to know which indie books meet a certain standard, and if so what things would you look for in that standard? Grammar? Punctuation? Interesting characters? Strong plot? I’d really like to know. πŸ™‚



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

20 responses to “Grub Street Reads – where did you go?

  • Leslie Ramey

    Hi Everyone! Leslie here from Compulsion Reads (formerly Grub Street Reads). We are very bummed that we had to change our name. We loved the concept and history behind historic Grub Street, but things happen that we can’t always control. We are however moving right along. Since the name change in December we have endorsed a number of books and are scheduled to promote our endorsed books at this years Los Angeles Festival of Books (one of the biggest book fairs in the US).

    We have a lot of work to get us back to where were but we are eager and already moving in that direction. Thank you for posting about our company. We really want to help readers to discover the amazing books that indie authors are producing and hope that Compulsion Reads will do that.


  • josh

    I never heard of Grub Street Reads. I associate Grub Street with food & restaurants, since that’s what is. I didn’t know the name had any sort of literary connection until I looked it up and skimmed the Wikipedia entry on Grub Street.


    • acflory

      I only stumbled on it through a fellow writer but I knew the name rang a bell of some sort. lol I think my brain is stuffed full of bits of random information that don’t connect! I should probably check the foodie site out.


  • Carrie Rubin

    I hadn’t heard of this site. Thanks for the info. I’ll have to go check it out.


  • laurieboris

    Here’s the Grub Street lowdown: they got sued for using the name. Guess the original Grub Street people, the writing organization, didn’t like it. So…it went down rather quickly last month and the name was changed. DB is up there mainly because earlier last year, they had a promo window where they let authors enter for free.


    • acflory

      Ah so that’s how I knew about Grub Street Reads! It was through your book Drawing Breath!

      What a pity they got sued. 😦 I wonder if they’ll regain the ground they’ve lost.


  • Candy Korman

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the “readability” factor of VOKHTAH, as you had a professional editor look over the manuscript.

    Having never heard of Grub Street Reads, I can only guess at the name change. Maybe a personnel change? Once you have established any kind of brand, it’s rare to ditch a name without some upheaval/shake-up in management OR a major change of direction in the brand.


    • acflory

      -smiles- I was confident of Vokhtah as a product but I thought having some kind of objective ‘seal’ would be good for marketing.

      And I agree about the branding, which was why I backed out before spending my money. What I’d like is something established to help me with /my/ branding not the other way around. πŸ˜€


  • geooorge

    It’s true what you say about branding. I know (knew) a company that made orange juice and they decided to do a complete redesign of their logo. Now i don’t see shops carrying their products because people didn’t know about the change, couldn’t find their logo and eventually stopped buying. So yeah. You want to change a logo or branding? do it in iterations spawning a significant amount of time to give time to people to realize the change.

    I never thought about that kind of business though, with the books i mean.
    I always thought that it was up to the editor to get those little mistakes. Even big publishing houses sometimes put out books with mistakes.


    • acflory

      The explosion of indie books happened because it became so easy – and cheap – for people to publish online [as an ebook]. The trouble is, doing it properly is not cheap because a good editor needs to eat too. So most indie books aren’t edited or even proof read for spelling or typos much less grammar.

      As a result of all this, indie books have a reputation for poor quality. There are some brilliant indie books out there but there are also a lot of stinkers. And there are few real mechanisms for finding the good ones in amongst all the others. It’s a problem. I generally buy books on recommendation or from indie authors I know and admire.


  • lorddavidprosser

    I hadn’t heard of Grub Street Read down market to attract many books.he name was too down market to attract many books. It does seem odd though if the name was becoming known. Even big names have noticed a drop in sales when they’ve changed names.
    I had an email within the last couple of days about another group that assesses books. You have to agree to do the same thing yourself though.and for me that’s a no-no as it would tie up my time. To be honest I’m a little leery of groups like this who farm the books out to their readers. Reading is such a subjective , individual thing and if thee one chosen to review yours is not a sci-fi fan what happens? Since you already have good reviews from people who’ve read the book shouldn’t that be enough?


    • acflory

      I’m not sure if even the old Grub Street Reads reviewed the books per se, more like checking them for readability. is attempting to do the same thing but I had a run in with Sasha there so I left.

      As for reviews in general? I love the ones I have but I’ll admit to being greedy and wanting more. πŸ˜€ I think it’s a mindset that Amazon fosters where the value of the book seems to be determined by the number of the reviews rather than what they actually /say/.


  • alexlaybourne

    There are some sites online where you can create free pdf’s of documents, and they email it to you. I have used them a few times for things.

    I have never heard of the site but it sounds… sounded good. I agree that brands are built on name, and names should not be changed. I hate it when that happens.


    • acflory

      I guess I could have downloaded an app to make the conversion to pdf but I really don’t /like/ pdf so it all became off-putting.

      And I hate name changes too. To me Grub Street Reads had something whereas Compulsion Reads has no charisma at all.


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