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We interrupt this public service blog to bring you an update about its sponsor: NetGalley. As you may have heard through twitter or my e-newsletter (sign up), we’re currently having a special theme week at NetGalley!

Welcome Hay House Week!

We’re so excited to announce that Hay House has joined the list of publishers using NetGalley to provide digital galleys to reviewers and professional readers.

NetGalley members are now able to request a digital review copy of many great Hay House books, emphasizing nonfiction in the areas of Self-Help, New Age, Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology, Health, Business, Finance, Men’s/Women’s Issues, Inspirational Memoirs, and Celebrity Biographies. Subjects include: social issues, current events, ecology, business, food and nutrition, education, the environment, alternative health/medicine, money/finance, nature, recreation, religion, men’s and women’s issues, spiritual growth, and fitness.

Browse current Hay House galleys here. NetGalley members will have the option to download PDF versions of the galleys to their computers, Kindles, Sony Readers, or other devices, and search within the galleys. Plus, excerpts are now live for all Hay House titles — so you can read a preview before you choose to request! While you’re browsing their titles in the catalog, just click the “more info” button and then the excerpt link under “URLs.”


In celebration of the launch week, we’re giving reviewers an added incentive! Hay House is offering a free 2010 Calendar by Hay House founder Louise L. Hay to the first 25 NetGalley members who send their review of any Hay House title.

It’s easy: after requesting and reading a Hay House galley, simply share the review with Hay House in NetGalley (under “Manage My Reviews” just click the “Write” pencil icon; include the entire review and a link to where it’s published).

The first 25 members to send a review will receive this 2010 Calendar:

I CAN DO IT® 2010 Calendar
365 Daily Affirmations
by Louise L. Hay

I hope you’ll check out Hay House at NetGalley today!

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or feedback.

Happy Reading!

All best,
Lindsey

your friendly Digital Concierge at NetGalley
lindsey[dot]rudnickas[at]netgalley[dot]com

Follow me on Twitter (@NetGalley)
Become a Facebook fan of NetGalley

Tell us what kinds of books you cover!

Not signed up with NetGalley? Anyone who reads and recommends books professionally (reviewers, media, bloggers, journalists, librarians, booksellers and educators) can use it for free! Visit us to learn more and register: http://www.netgalley.com/

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Last Friday’s #FollowReader chat was a real treat. Our guest was Open Road Integrated Media’s CEO and co-founder, Jane Friedman. Much of the discussion centered around the innovative publishing model that Open Road is embarking upon, and Jane generously shared information about everything from the formats that ORIM will be publishing in, to author compensation, to their plans for marketing. You can read the transcript from Friday’s chat by clicking on this link.

Below we’ve included a few insights offered by Jane during last Friday’s chat:

On the traditional role of the publisher, and how Open Road differs from the traditional model:

The publisher has traditionally discovered that author, most of the time through agents, and paid the author an advance against royalties. The author worked with an editor and when the manuscript was ready to be published the marketing and publicity and sales staffs geared up to introduce the book to the public. Open Road Media is based on a profit share model. We do not pay advances. We are only dealing with electronic formats with a p-o-d component when possible. The author supplies the content; Open Road Media does the marketing.

On Open Road’s approach to marketing:

  • The marketing platform is based on 3 principles: scale, reach and ease of use. It’s goal is to connect readers to authors in communities where readers currently live.
  • Our marketing will be a combination of traditional heavily weighted to the digital/emerging channels.
  • Lead time: our marketing begins on signing of contract versus close to the on-sale date.

On reaching communities where readers already live:

It’s not just aboutFacebook and Twitter. Readers live on crowd-sourced content sites, social networks, opinion sites, media sites, etc. They also live where their passions are. Cooking sites, craft and art sites, parenting sites. These are our readers as well.

We will expand to reach new audiences. There is a big world out there of people who read and do not fall into traditional.

To be clear, we will go to large sites but MAIN driver is to find right niche communities to partner with and supply content to.

On author profit share:

Authors like profit-sharing, particularly as advances are moving in the wrong direction.

On author branding versus publisher branding:

Absolutely. The author is the brand. Open Road Media as a consumer brand is not part of our thinking. We recognize that consumers will find content on our site, but the brands we are promoting are the authors and their works.

———————————————————————————————————-

Our gratitude to Jane for taking the time to join us. Be sure to follow Open Road Integrated Media on Twitter: www.twitter.com/openroadmedia and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/openroadmedia. And,  for the complete transcript of Friday’s chat with Jane Friedman, just click here.

Be sure to join us for this Friday’s #FollowReader at 4pm ET.

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We interrupt this public service blog to bring you an update about its sponsor: NetGalley. As you may have heard through twitter or my e-newsletter (not signed up?), we’re in the middle of a special theme week at NetGalley!

Welcome Harlequin Week!


We’re so excited to announce that Harlequin Books has joined the list of publishers using NetGalley to provide digital galleys to reviewers and professional readers.

NetGalley members are now able to request a digital review copy of dozens of great Harlequin books, including romance, women’s fiction, paranormal, erotica, YA and non-fiction titles. These galleys can be downloaded as PDFs to your computer, or read on your Kindle or Sony Reader. Browse all Harlequin titles here.

Coincidentally, we also launched our Facebook Page this week – complete with an event for Welcome Harlequin Week, of course!

In preparation for this special week, I asked some of our favorite romance reviewers using NetGalley what they thought about Harlequin coming on board.

Here are some highlights:

Harlequin on NetGalley is a meeting of digital brilliance in one location – it’s like chocolate, seasalt and caramel. Warm, dryer-fresh socks and a book. Flannel jammies and hot cocoa. Perfect merge. Excuse me, I have to go indulge! There is no better audience for digital books and the instant enjoyment of digital reading than romance readers. Women buy more electronics, buy more fiction, and now, with the convenience of ebooks and portable devices, can read more – any time, any place. We are the digital readers that publishers are looking for – and we’re not that hard to find, thanks to NetGalley.

—Sarah of Smart Bitches Trashy Books, @SmartBitches

Harlequin joining NetGalley is exciting news. I think the first romance I read was a Harlequin, probably Harlequin Presents because I remember the white cover and the circle with the hero and heroine pictured in it. Harlequin Presents is still one of my favorite romance lines, but I’m also a fan of their Luna books line (which is for fans of fantasy with romantic elements). They just started a Harlequin Teen line which looks promising. If I see a few of my favorite lines from Harlequin at NetGalley, I will be a happy reviewer. From what I’ve seen Harlequin has been embracing digital technology – they have a reader panel called Tell Harlequin which is all online, all their new titles come in ebook format, and for their 60th anniversary celebration they have harlequincelebrates.com where 16 ebooks are available free to download…Romance is a popular genre, it will be popular in the physical form and in the digital form.

—Janice of janicu’s book blog, @janicu

I was very excited when I learned Harlequin would be offering its galleys digitally through NetGalley.  Harlequin continues to impress me with its whole hearted embrace of digital books and digital media.  Clearly Harlequin is working hard to fulfill its goal of getting a romance in every woman’s hands. With the Harlequin galleys available digitally, it will reduce the negative impact on the environment and increase efficiencies for reviewing teams.  Many review blogs are comprised of individuals located all over the US and often, even international locales.  Digital galleys allow the review blogs to divert their time and attention to actually reading the books instead of focusing on the ministerial aspect of allocation of books. It’s a win all the way around and I laud Harlequin for taking the opportunities that NetGalley is providing.

—Jane Litte of Dear Author, @dearauthor

Good stuff! I hope you’ll join the growing list of readers who are getting an early peek at some great Harlequin titles. And as always, don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions or feedback.

Happy Reading!

All best,

Lindsey (your friendly Digital Concierge at NetGalley)

Follow us on Twitter (@NetGalley)
Become a Fan of NetGalley on our Facebook Page

Tell us what kinds of books you cover!

Not signed up with NetGalley? Anyone who reads and recommends books professionally (reviewers, media, bloggers, journalists, librarians, booksellers and educators) can use it for free! Visit us to learn more and register: http://www.netgalley.com/

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When it comes to book advertising, what are the do’s and don’ts for authors and publishers? How useful are metrics like ad click-through rates? And how are publishers and authors reaching audiences in specific subject areas or “verticals” on the web?

Those are some of the questions we explore in the second half of our conversation about trends in book advertising with Verso Advertising President, Denise Berthiaume, and Group Director Tom Thompson, which picks up where we left off Monday’s interview.   

And tomorrow, Berthiaume and Thompson join us for a live chat, in our weekly #FollowReader conversation on Twitter (Friday, December 4, 2009, from 4-5pm ET). To follow to our discussion in real time and contribute your own comments, go to TweetChat and type in #followreader. 

Q&A with Denise Berthiaume and Tom Thompson

What are the biggest mistakes that publishers and authors make when trying to engage with online audiences?     

Denise: The biggest mistake I see is authors and companies spending a lot of money on very cool site design, but leaving no part of the budget (and that includes money, employee time and enthusiasm for the project!) for the marketing required to drive people to the site.     

Tom:  Because budgets are so tight, publishers often use the “silver bullet approach” – hoping a single marketing or promotion piece will make all the difference. Instead, we really need to think about all the factors, the whole ecosystem that leads to a book being discovered and purchased.     

What’s the smartest thing publishers and authors can do in their online ad strategy?     

Tom: Think of your online strategy hand-in-hand with, and really no different from, your “offline” strategy. Authors should use the web to drive foot traffic into physical stores and use their in-person appearances to build audience for their site/blog/etc. Authors need to think about their brand long term.     

Denise: Focus first on your audience wherever they are: on- and offline. Usually both, and usually at  the same time.   

In determining the effect of online ads, how useful are metrics like click-through rates, site traffic and Bookscan book sales – and how effectively can you map one variable to another? 

 Denise:  Obviously, our job is to sell books. So our primary goal with each campaign is to drive sales.  To that end we recently worked with Nielsen BookScan to study book sales during Verso Reader Channel ad campaigns and found a significant correlation – meaning a bump in sales – when campaigns served 1.5 million + ad impressions. We go into that in a bit more detail about that in a post on our blog.  

Tom Thompson

 Tom: Click Through Rate (CTR) tends to be the first and only number people want to know. But it’s misleading. With the FSG and Vanguard campaigns mentioned above, for example, neither performed astonishingly well in terms of CTR. But both spectacularly accomplished their goals.  

Denise: CTR is a big topic in advertising right now. Everyone’s looking for guidance on measuring performance, but no one knows what that measure should be. CTR has been declining and worrying people for a long time (if you Google it, the first thing that comes up is a blog from January 2001 about declining CTR).  

Tom:  The general CTR average is .08% — which matches up with what I’m seeing with our clients everywhere except the NYTimes.com, which is generally higher. That .08% figure comes from a DoubleClick report cited by ComScore

Denise:  There have been lots of CTR-boosting remedies proposed over the years, most prominently the Cost Per Engagement model of rich media. But in the end, click-throughs  of any variety have to be considered in the context of content, impression level, and campaign goal. What I mean by that is:   

  1. Content: Are you offering something of value that is targeted either by context or behavior to the audience that’s seeing the ad?
  2. Impression level: Are you serving enough impressions to make a difference?
  3. Campaign goal: What do you want out of the campaign? Awareness? Clicks? Newsletter sign-ups? Sales?

Tell us about the online network of 5,000 sites you have put together for book publisher ads. What subject categories have the most sites and are the most popular with advertisers?  

Denise Berthiaume

 Denise: The Verso Reader Channels were created after we saw the need for marketing plans that truly took advantage of the unique ways different interest-groups are now clustering online. Now that there are sites for every interest group – from cooking to pop culture, fitness to parenting – we can target hundreds of relevant sites at a time, thanks to our partnership with Burst Media. Burst is a  leading network that’s been around since the early days of the commercial web, has relationships with over 4,500 sites that provide over 110 million unique users a month, and reaches over 60% of the web population. Our partnership leverages Burst’s strengths in aggregating content into verticals along with our knowledge of publishing categories and creative expertise to give our clients extremely cost-efficient online media buys.  

Tom: The other advantage of the network model is that we don’t have to confront the minimum spends that we face with buying ads for a single site. The standard $10-25k minimum spends for ad buys on single sites that we’re seeing now are well down from the $30-50k minimums of 2007, but still too high for most campaigns.  There is no minimum with a Reader Channel buy – although you do face diminishing returns if you spend less than $5k. The standard cost per thousand impressions (CPM) for ads on the Reader Channels is $6.    

If bloggers or bookstores want to apply to join your network, how do they go about it? How much do the sites get paid to run your ads?     

Denise: While we’re big fans of bloggers and do buy ads on blogs for most of our clients separately, blogs are not part of the Reader Channels because Burst has strict rules about member-site content, audience level and comment field moderation that most blogs cannot meet, according to the eligibility requirements of the network.      

What have you learned about what readers respond to from observing the activity in this network of 5,000 sites?     

Denise: We surveyed thousands of respondents about their book buying habits and preferences, with early data showing some surprising behavior by heavy readers and ebook enthusiasts. We will reveal more about that at the Digital Book World Conference on January 26 and 27.     

Join us for tomorrow’s live chat with Berthiaume and Thompson (Friday, December 4, 2009, from 4-5pm ET), in our weekly #FollowReader conversation on Twitter.

To follow to our discussion in real time and contribute your own comments, go to TweetChat and type in #followreader. 

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As publishers and authors strive to connect with their audiences through more channels than ever, what can the latest trends in book advertising teach us about how readers are engaging with books on the web and beyond?

Denise Berthiaume

That was just one of the questions that prompted this interview with Verso Advertising’s President, Denise Berthiaume, and V-P, Group Director, Tom Thompson. Over the past 20 years, these two have worked with all the major houses, and many smaller ones, as well as one-on-one with many authors, both famous and not-so-famous. Their survival  in an industry that’s never been known for extravagent advertising budgets, at a time when rival agencies have closed or scaled down, speaks volumes about their resourcefulness and ability to stay ahead of the market.

Here’s the first part of our two-part interview with Bethiaume and Thompson about how readers are discovering books through ads, and some recent campaigns that reveal smart ways to allocate book advertising dollars. 

Look out for the second part of the interview this coming Thursday (December 3, 2009), with a discussion about how to measure an ad’s effectiveness and Verso’s vertical ad network, which reaches roughly 60% of the web and more than 110 million unique users a month. 

And on Friday (December 4, 2009), Bethiaume and Thompson will be the guests on our weekly #FollowReader conversation on Twitter, from 4-5pm ET. To follow to our discussion in real time and contribute your own comments, go to TweetChat and type in #followreader.

Q&A with Denise Berthiaume and Tom Thompson

What important new trends are you seeing in how readers discover books? 

Tom Thompson

Tom: Readers discover books now the way they always have: through friends, family and communities of interest. What’s new is how these groups are communicating and the unprecedented opportunities to reach them at a relevant moment in the conversation.

Denise: We feel the biggest potential for growth right now is with vertically-oriented sites or networks, whether that means an ad network like the Verso Reader Channels, or a site that caters to a particular enthusiast base, like Tor.com is becoming for Sci-Fi readers, or Harlequin’s new publishing venture, Harlequin Horizons. 

Tom: Also, Sourcebooks’ brand new PoetrySpeaks.com  is likely to become for poetry readers.

Do book ads influence readers as much as in the past? How are they maintaining their relevance in a world where people don’t trust ads and marketing as much as they used to?

Denise: People treat ads with the same amount of healthy skepticism they always have. As advertisers, we have to know our audience and speak to them in a way that respects who they are and what they want.

Tom: Trying to pull one over on your audience or talk down to them in some way is simply insulting, and a waste of everybody’s time and money.

Denise: The major difference in ad placement now versus ten years ago, is that you used to be able to reach booksellers, wholesalers, authors and agents with a single ad in the New York Times.  The Times is still the best place to reach a good portion of the book business. But you can’t count on reaching the majority of consumers that way anymore.

Tom: The mechanism [for reaching the book market] has splintered, and the consumer that publishers once simply left to the booksellers to worry about now needs to be every publisher’s focus. That means that the publisher has to reach out to a book’s readers wherever they are: whether it’s military history enthusiasts on military sites, sports fans on sports sites, or parents on parenting sites.  The web obviously makes this kind of targeting easier than ever.

Denise: The trick now is to target each book’s audience and yet also reach the kind of scale that we still enjoy on TV, radio, and, yes, print venues like the Times.

Do print, radio, TV or online ads give the most bang for the buck in terms of reach?  

Denise: The latest Nielsen stats on media reach offer some perspective: 95% of the adult population is reached via broadcast TV; 77% is reached via broadcast radio; 64% via web; and 62% via print.  

If an author or publisher has a limited advertising budget, where is the best place to spend the money?

Tom: Well, it depends how much money we’re talking about! Certainly for the most limited ad budgets — $5-$10,000 — online is the way to go. But in terms of number of people reached for each dollar spent, radio is often the most efficient way for publishers to reach large numbers of people – as long as you have $20k plus. For the biggest budgets, however, TV still provides the most significant mass reach.

Denise: But there’s a good reason the bulk of our business remains in print. Even though print circulations are precipitously declining, newspapers and magazines are still (for now) a great place to reach the older (40+) wealthier segment of the population, the people who buy print books.  The New York Times circulation is now under million. But it’s still reaching more than 900,000 readers every day.

How should online advertising fit into an overall advertising strategy for publishers and authors?

Denise:  Online advertising is best used in concert with everything else that’s working for a book: publicity, promotion, community outreach, reviews, building bookseller enthusiasm. With nothing else happening—no publicity, no author platform, no news tie-in—an ad isn’t going to go very far working on its own.

Tom:  But if an ad offers something of value to a relevant audience, and happens at the same time as word is building in other media, it will make a difference.

What kinds of online book ads are readers most actively responding to now? Is it necessary to have a video ad rather than a flash ad to make an impact?

Denise: Readers respond to any message or offer, however high or low tech, that’s relevant to their interest or need. Generally, rich media (including video) performs better, but that’s often because the immediate value-offer is more apparent. But rich media requires a bigger budget, since third party servers like DoubleClick or Point Roll are crucial for optimum serving and reporting.

How necessary is it to run a contest or give something away in your ad, like an audio download or keychains or other gizmos?

Tom:  These days, a free excerpt alone isn’t enough to elicit a click– unless it’s a highly newsworthy person or spectacularly timely piece of information. FSG, for example, ran a highly successful campaign that featured an interesting twist on the free excerpt model for Thomas L. Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded.  Over a month before the hardcover’s on sale date, FSG offered free audio downloads of his entire last book as well as an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming title. This ten day pre-pub online ad campaign led to nearly 100,000 downloads (and tens of thousands of email addresses). You can read more about the campaign on our site.

Denise:  Another successful campaign was for the Vanguard Press title Bad Dogs Have More Fun. Taking advantage of the author’s previous success with Marley and Me, Vanguard ran a simple promotion offering a free keychain to the first respondents across hundreds of pop culture websites on Verso’s Pop Culture Reader Channel. The book’s website was deluged with over 100,000 people registering to win. (You can see Bad Dog creative at http://www.versoadvertising.com/online/).

Tom:  In both cases, the publishers did more than create a promotion that offered the audience something it wanted. They let the potential  audience know the promotion existed! The “Build it and they will come” theory of online marketing is pure fantasy.

NOTE: Look out for the second part of the interview this coming Wednesday (December 2, 2009), with a discussion about how to measure an ad’s effectiveness and Verso’s vertical ad network, which reaches roughly 60% of the web and more than 110 million unique users a month.

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Two of my non-professional book interests collided last week sort of unexpectedly.

#1: I had the opportunity last weekend to attend a seminar held by Daniel Traister, Curator of the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Pennsylvania (my alma mater). The session was titled, “What Good is an Old Book in the Age of Google?”

#2: I ran the Scholastic Book Fair at my kids’ elementary school, not for the first time. One of the biggest aspects of the job (besides steering kids away from $5 pens!) is of course helping them select books that are a. appropriate and b. they can afford.

Here’s where the collision fits in.

During the Penn session, the attendees were treated to a glimpse of two editions of the Nuremberg Chronicle, printed in 1493, a phenomenal specimen. The book has a rich history in art and literature and much has been written about it….but what struck me was Professor Traister’s reminder that the book was never intended to be read. It was intended to be owned. It’s large, unwieldy, heavy, not particularly well-written, and the material isn’t all that exciting. But if you could afford to display it in your house? Well, then…

Fast forward 516 years to present day, where the same principles are applied (loosely) on a small scale at my book fair. Magic Tree House: $4.99 paperback. Displayed next to $11.99 hardcover of the newest book. Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Friends: hardcover, $17.99. Softcover school edition, also available, with fold-out insert: $4.99.

I understand the economics of publishing: hardcovers are more profitable. But where is the value to the consumer? How can I, in good conscience, direct any child to purchase the same product in different binding for 3 times more when the reading experience will be exactly the same (maybe better for the softcover if you consider the fold-out insert)? We didn’t. We directed kids away from the $17+ hardcovers and to the softcover editions, where they could spend the same amount of money and walk away with triple the number of books to love and enjoy.

It’s not that the $17.99 by itself is too much (that’s another debate). It’s the additional cost for the hardcover when the content is the same. Particularly–and why don’t more people say this?–when there are just too many quality books available out there.

Certain formats will always demand to be owned rather than consumed, it’s true (see this video from HarperStudio about the Art of Bookmaking). But I’d like to suggest that for most books this simply isn’t the case, especially as ebooks continue to push prices lower and there is a larger gap between the hardcover and “other format” prices. Timing, too: as the time between hardcover, paperback and ebook releases shorten, there is a greater incentive for consumers to just wait it out until the less expensive version is available. Particularly when–and why don’t more people say this!–there are just too many quality books available out there.

In many ways, the pricing model for books was established over 500 years ago, when the physical format of the book clearly denoted its worth and purpose. Though many publishers continue to experiment with formats and release schedules, now seems to be the time for publishers to veer dramatically away from the traditional process to consider at the manuscript stage: What format provides the best value for the consumer? Is it useful content, format-agnostic? Maybe best as a website or iphone app or ebook, then. Is it for entertainment and a one-time use? Perhaps the hardcover version is eliminated, or published after the paperback, as a “collector’s edition” the way DVD collections of TV shows are (ie, when the book’s saleability warrants the hardcover edition.)

Although price is set by the publisher (or retailer), value is of course determined by the consumer. It’s anecdotal, but what I hear from regular old consumers, at book fairs, shopping for birthday gifts, on the playground, is that book pricing is confusing, too expensive and even a little manipulative. In a frugal economy with an abundance of options for information consumption and entertainment, where consumers can compare prices nearly anywhere, are we getting it right for our readers?

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How do major book reviewers select books, and how much has social media and other technology changed the way they discover new titles?  Do print galleys, pre-pub reviews and trade shows matter any more, as digital tools expand and print review outlets continue to shrink? 

Those were some of the questions we explored with Lev Grossman, Time magazine’s book critic, technology writer and Nerd World blogger, and Carolyn Kellogg, who reviews for the Los Angeles Times and writes the Jacket Copy blog, last Friday our #followreader discussion on Twitter (October 30, 2009).

Among the highlights:

  • Social media buzz is gaining importance, but it can’t make up for a book that doesn’t deliver
  • Paper galleys are most desireable because taking notes in them is easy
  • Standalone e-readers are still too expensive for these professional readers
  • Some reviewers pay more attention to publisher marketing efforts than others
  • Small houses do have a shot at getting reviewed
  • Becoming the author of three novels has made Grossman wince at what he used to say in his reviews
  • Reviewers do regret it when they miss the chance to review good books

Here’s the full conversation:

What makes you sit up & decide to review a book?

Lev Grossman@leverus: Have your publicist tuck a $50 right around page 100. Works like a charm. Not many people know this. #followreader

@Corb21: we tucked 1,000,000 dollar bills in our books once…funny, but not necessarily more reviews. #followreader

@leverus: My antennae start to crackle when I see somebody doing something genuinely risky or genuinely new. #followreader

@leverus: Doesn’t happen very often. For example: I skipped the Doctorow this fall. It’s a great book. But not a new book. #followreader

@leverus: Formally, stylistically, thematically: I had seen Doctorow do these things before. No one does them better. But: not new. #followreader

@paperhaus: Well I nearly fell over dead when my editor showed me the new Thomas Pynchon. Having a recognizable name helps. Esp. Pynchon. #followreader@paperhaus

@leverus: Counterexample: Jess Walters’ FINANCIAL LIVES OF THE POETS. Nothing else I’ve read this year felt that utterly contemporary. #followreader

@leverus: (Except Cory Doctorow’s MAKERS) #followreader

@leverus: The more I review, the less I’m interested in names. The writing has to deliver. #followreader

@paperhaus: Since advance copies of books don’t have art, we rarely judge by the cover. #followreader

@charabbott: Does this mean you read 10x more books than you review? #followreader

@leverus: I wouldn’t put it as high as 10X. But I read a lot more books than I review. And I read a HELL of a lot of first chapters. #followreader

@bnreviewer: Curious to know what books over past year you passed on and now wish you’d covered (assuming any). #followreader

@leverus: There are so many worthy books I regret skipping. The Dan Chaon comes to mind. #followreader

@CollectedMisc: Is there a place for audacious failures? Works that tried something big but failed or did so in an interesting way? #followreader

@paperhaus: Yes, one of the great things about Jacket Copy (the LA Times book blog) is that we can cover so much #followreader

@leverus: Give an example of an audacious failure! I want names named. #followreader

@paperhaus: There was an intentionally failed book, @leverus, called B is for Bad Poetry – genuinely terrible poems, cute blog post. #followreader

@leverus: I would call KINDLY ONES an audacious failure. I was truly blown away by its ambition. #followreader

Where do you pick up buzz about new books and authors?

@charabbott: Do you just read the books on your desk? What else influences you? #followreader

@leverus: I read the trades. But I don’t trust them. I talk to editors and publicists and agents, a lot. And other writers. #followreader

@charabbott: Why not trust the trades? #followreader

@leverus: in the case of PW: no bylines. I need to know who the reviewers are, so I can understand their context, biases,etc #followreader

@Corb21: What chance does a smaller publishing house have at getting reviewed? What ups their ante? #followreader

@paperhaus: Indie houses have a good chance of getting attention around here. We review New Directions, Two Dollar Radio… #followreader

@charabbott: What’s the most offbeat book you’ve covered lately? #followreader

@paperhaus: Offbeat: probably LA BIZARRO, an updated list of wildly eclectic restaurants & places around LA. #followreader

@charabbott: How did you find out about LA BIZARRO. Sounds like a local publisher? #followreader

@paperhaus: LA BIZARRO was pubbed by Chronicle Books. #followreader

Do you use digital Galleys and e-Readers?

@NetGalley: Does having a printed galley on your desk influence you or will you track down a book if you want it? #followreader

@leverus: It never hurts to have a paper galley kicking around. But yes, I’ll hunt down a book if I know I want it. #followreader

@Corb21: how do you feel about a digital copy? Does it HAVE to be paper for you? #followreader

@leverus: No digital ARCs here. I don’t think e-reader tech is mature yet. and I need to take notes as I read. #followreader

@paperhaus: No digi ARCs here, either. Until a free reader shows up on my doorstep, I can’t afford to switch. #followreader

@leverus: It’s really about the note-taking functionality. Though also, yes, the $$$. Kindles are expensive. #followreader

@CollectedMisc: Just thought I would note that you can highlight and take notes on the Kindle and export as a text file. #followreader

@leverus Exporting from Kindle = possible but cumbersome. I’m a technophilic guy, but it has to outperform paper. to me, it doesn’t yet #followreader

@Corb21: if you got something digital would you ignore it or request the paper? #followreader

@leverus: I would request paper. Though if the pitch was v off-base, I would (to my lasting shame) probably ignore. #followreader

@paperhaus: I do not own an ebook reader, other than my iphone, on which I’ve installed several e-reader apps. #followreader

charabbott: Do you read for work on your iPhone? and if so, how does it affect the reviewing experience? #followreader

@paperhaus: I read on my iphone to compare apps for a blog post. But now it’s recreational; haven’t finished Moby Dick yet. #followreader

How Important is Publisher Marketing?

@jenwgilmore: Can we pls address the importance/influence of marketing? #followreader

@leverus: Re: marketing, I agree it is relevant. If a publisher is really investing $$$ in a book, that interests me. #followreader

@paperhaus: Wow, I’m really different than @leverus on this. I don’t care how much $ a pub house spends. This may be an east/west thing. #followreader

@leverus: I feel like I should clarify: marketing interests me b/c somebody at the house is willing to bet money on a book #followreader

@jenwgilmore: With so little marketing on “non-brand” names, what are the signals you respond to? The same as old days? #followreader

@leverus: Same as old days — “buzz,” whatever that means. gossip, good trades. but also blogs and twitter. #followreader

@paperhaus: My creaky old punk self distrusts marketing. Too much push and … I feel pushed. #followreader

@paperhaus: That said, it means a lot to have a genuine publisher or trusted publicist promoting your work. #followreader

@mattbucher: Should books be marketed at all? The cream will rise to the top?? #followreader

@leverus: I wish I believed that. I just don’t see the literary world as reliably meritocratic. sometimes cream sinks! #followreader

How Much Are Your Influenced by Social Media?

@charabbott: In the past year, have you heard more about books through social media or other online sources before publication? #followreader

@leverus: Yes, info about new books is definitely reaching me thru social media. Twitter especially, it’s amazing tool. #followreader

@paperhaus: I love hearing about books thru new channels (Twitter, Facebook) but also standing in the book room and reading #followreader

@paperhaus: But all the buzz in the world can’t save a book that doesn’t have that zing. #followreader

@Corb21: Who do reviewers trust on social media? Authors, Publishers, Publicists? Readers? #followreader

@paperhaus: Reviewers trust all of the above on social media: Authors, Publishers, Publicists, Readers #followreader

@michellekerns: I’d like to know what you both think about the explosion of blogs, etc. reviewing books. Does it drag the art down? #followreader

@paperhaus: I was an indie blogger before coming to the LATimes, so I’m a big fan of book blogging. More conversations! #followreader

@leverus: What a perilous question.More reviewers=more good reviewers, but I think there are irresponsible voices out there #followreader

@leverus: I think good reviewing rests on solid scholarship. must have read the precedents #followreader

@charabbott: Has direct feedback from readers via your blog prompted you to change any of your reviewing practices? #followreader

@paperhaus: re: direct feedback via the blog – never change practices. But my feelings have been hurt once or twice :) #followreader

@ClaudiaC: I’ve read that people are more inteested in ‘people like me’ reviews (Amazon) vs. ‘expert’ reviews. Thoughts? #followreader

@leverus:it’s a huge question. too big for a tweet. shifting from top-down to bottom-up culture. will change everything! #followreader

@ClaudiaC: fascinating change! Do you see bottom-up culture happening? #followreader

@leverus: I really do. See my much maligned WSJ piece “Good Books Don’t Have to Be Hard” for extended-play version. #followreader

How much attention to you pay to trade shows?

@charabbott: What about trade shows? Do you rely on buzz from Book Expo as much as ever? #followreader

@paperhaus: I’ve been to 4 or 5 Book Expos and I think it’s changed a lot.

@leverus, you’ve been to lots more, right? #followreader

@leverus: I’ve been to a grand total of 3 book expos! #followreader

@leverus: I listen to trade show buzz. I’m looking for info everywhere, even if it’s not top quality info. more = more. #followreader

@leverus: But with Book Expo in New York now, I’ll never be able to escape it again. #followreader

How much does your readership, and being an author yourself influence you?

@susanmpls: does your reader demographic influence picks? Or are you selecting what peaks your interest? #followreader

@leverus: reader demo does affect what I cover. I’m paid to serve Time readers. They skew older, and female.I keep it in mind #followreader

@charabbott: How has yr experience as an author changed your approach to reviewing? #followreader

@leverus: Being an author has definitely made me a gentler reviewer. I realize it’s partly a conversation w/ the author. #followreader

@charabbott: It sounds like you don’t review books you hate – so that should help with author relations! #followreader

@leverus: I don’t do hatchet jobs anymore. I used to. I wince when I think about it. #followreader Future of reviews?

@NetGalley: Do you worry about disappearance of standalone book review sections? or trust reviews will be elsewhere? #followreader

@leverus: I worry about disappearing book sections. but at the same time I wonder if they couldn’t do more to save themselves #followreader

@paperhaus: It’s OK for books not to have a stand-alone section; the real challenge today is to newspapers as a whole. #followreader

@paperhaus: I worry that professional reviewing is shrinking – anyone who wants in has to work xtra hard, bloggers or not

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