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This was originally a guest post for Armchair BEA, by Lindsey Rudnickas, Digital Concierge at NetGalley

Hello, dear friends! I hope you’re enjoying the bookish delight of BEA from the comfort of your own homes. I’m fortunate enough to attend BEA each year to meet with our publisher clients, and say hello to the many bloggers, librarians, reviewers, and other friends who support NetGalley. This year, I’ll also be speaking on a panel at the BEA Bloggers Conference on Demystifying the Book Blogger & Publisher Relationship. But our love of books and bloggers doesn’t stop at the doors to the Javits center, and we know you don’t have to be at BEA to feel the buzz.

NetGalley has always been a friend to bloggers—it’s been our pleasure to work with you for the past 4 years as the book blogging community has flourished, and we thank you for your enthusiasm for the site. It’s so rewarding for us and for our publishers to see blogger-led contests and read-a-thons like “NetGalley Month” and the year-long “NetGalley Reading Challenge.” For NetGalley and bloggers alike, we’re sure the best is yet to come, and we can’t wait to continue the journey with you!

NetGalley is all about the newest books—helping connect publishers with buzz-makers (like you) to launch titles faster and further. This year for BEA, we’re working with some great industry partners to help bring the galleys to you, so read on.

BEA BUZZ BOOKS: EXCERPTS FROM OVER 30 TOP FALL 2012 TITLES from Publishers Lunch. We were thrilled to join with Publishers Lunch for this cool promotion, which they’re calling “BEA in an eBook.” The best part: it’s available to READ NOW on NetGalley—instant access, no requesting, no waiting.

BEA is all about discovering the fall season’s big books, from new voices to breakout authors, hot nonfiction and beloved bestsellers. Publishers Lunch has packed a convention’s worth of exclusive excerpts from top Fall titles featured at the BookExpo America convention into a single volume. Enjoy new works from Junot Díaz, Mark Helprin, Rhoda Janzen, Barbara Kingsolver, Jessica Khoury, Dennis Lehane, J.R. Moehringer, Neil Young, and many others in the free BEA BUZZ BOOKS. In addition to the excerpts, there’s even a round-up from Publishers Lunch of over 100 Fall books of note of all kinds to have on your radar.

PLUS: Go beyond the excerpts with NetGalley

After most excerpts, look for a link to READ or REQUEST the full galley on NetGalley. Publishers can choose how to provide access to the full galley, so you’ll see two kinds of links—either a link to request the title on NetGalley, or a widget link for approved access as soon as you login. Enjoy!

Barbara Hoffert’s BEA Galley & Signing Guide 2012 for Library Journal. It’s being called “the librarian’s essential BEA 2012 navigation tool” and we have to agree! Barbara’s been tracking some of the show’s top titles, from large publishers and small. Plus, you’ll see embedded icons that will guide you to NetGalleyso you can request a copy even if you won’t be at the show.

 

 

Feed Your Reader with NetGalley all year long!

Although BEA is an especially busy time, we’re working everyday adding new titles from publishers for you to request and review. Browse our catalog anytime, and keep updated on what’s happening at NetGalley with our newsletters (spoiler alert: a facelift and lots of big changes are coming—stay tuned!).

Speaking of which, here are two of our recent BEA-related newsletters:

NetGalley Roundup: Get Ready for BEA

Feed Your Reader with the biggest buzz books at BEA

And watch your inboxes for the NetGalley Roundup: BEA Edition, going out the week of the show! Sign up to receive our newsletters, or find them on our NetGalley Roundups page.

Happy reading,

Lindsey

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Oh my goodness folks, BookExpo America is just around the  corner!

If you’re already a NetGalley member, you probably got our email last week about our BEA plans. We have an exciting update, so I wanted to share the details of our promotion with all you “follow the readers.”


“LIKE” NETGALLEY AT BEA & ENTER TO WIN A READING DEVICE!

By BEA, NetGalley will have over 26,000 registered members and 100 publishers–which we think is something to celebrate! Our theme for NetGalley at BEA will be “COUNT ME IN” and we hope you’ll join the fun.

We’re bringing our Facebook Wall to life by asking all of you to come by booth #3718 to “like” our booth wall using the cute “I heart NG” sticker you see here and below.

Plus it’s your chance to enter our drawing to win one of three eReaders! That’s right, now we’re giving away 3 devices:

Just announced: a NOOK Color—The Reader’s Tablet (thanks  to our friends at Barnes & Noble)

a Kobo eReader (thanks to our friends at Kobo)

and a Kindle!

Of course we want the fun to extend online, so you can also pose for a picture with your sticker on the booth wall, and we’ll post the pics on our NetGalley Facebook page.


CAN’T ATTEND BEA? WE STILL LOVE YOU!  

Show that you love us too by putting this sticker on your blog.

 

Plus, if you comment on our Facebook page during BEA Week (May 23-27), you’ll also be entered into the drawing for one of the eReaders!


And one last friendly reminder:

DON’T MISS US AT THE BOOK BLOGGER CONVENTION!

I’ll  also be on the Technology for Blogging panel at the Book Blogger Convention (at the end of BEA).

See my guest blog post for the BBC here. Follow the updates on Twitter @bookbloggercon.

If you’ll be there too, make sure to say hello!


Can’t handle waiting another whole week for all this fun to start?

In the meantime, check the NetGalley Features page for links to our BEA FICTION Preview and BEA NONFICTION Preview to see which galleys will be promoted at BEA. Request them now for a sneak peek.

That’s it for now–thanks, as always, for all your support. See you soon!

–Lindsey, Digital Concierge, NetGalley


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We must apologize for the absence of new posts over the last few months. As you may know if you’re a NetGalley member, your Digital Concierge (me, Lindsey) went on maternity leave earlier than expected in late November, and this blog went on leave right along with me! Luckily we found great help in Sarah, who served as your Digital Concierge while I was out. Now I’ve returned to my post at NetGalley and we’re ready to give you an update.

Here’s what NetGalley’s been up to over the past few months:

  • Finding new ways for you to read digital galleys. Thanks to the Aldiko Book Reader app, Android users can now read NetGalley files on their devices. Have questions about using your iPad, iPhone, Kobo, Literati, Nook, Sony Reader, or other device with NetGalley? There’s a page for that!
  • Telling you about new titles. Currently we have more than 940 titles listed in NetGalley’s public catalog, and new galleys are added all the time. We send out periodic updates about our new titles, so make sure you’re signed up to receive our newsletters for your favorite genres. Plus, you can now view past and forthcoming newsletters on our NetGalley Features page. We’ll soon be announcing the Most Requested titles, so check back to see if it’s your favorite!
  • Helping your requests get approved. We asked publishers what criteria they use to determine whether to approve or decline galley requests. Wondering what publishers are looking for? Check out this new page BEFORE you request to better your chances of getting the galleys you want.
  • Getting to know you — our members. We closed out 2010 with 15,353 registered members of NetGalley (today, just three months later, we’ve surpassed 20,000 members!), and we took some time to look at what that number means:
    • Reviewers – including bloggers – make up almost half of our members (49%). Another 16.5% are librarians, and 11% are part of the media. Booksellers make up an additional 11% of our member community, while educators accounted for 9.7%.
    • When new members join NetGalley, we ask them to indicate which genres they’re interested in. Literature & Fiction is the most popular, but only by a little bit – Teens & YA is close behind. Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Romance are next, followed by Nonfiction.
    • NetGalley members made 80,945 requests to view galleys in 2010. It’s probably not too much of a surprise to say that reviewers made most of those requests – 63.9% of them, to be precise.
    • Our members downloaded 45,422 galleys last year. Almost half (46.9%) were DRM-protected files downloaded with Adobe Digital Editions. 29.1% were sent directly to members’ Kindles, and 11.2% were DRM-free files.
    • And the result of all of those readers, requests, and downloads was a mountain of reviews sent to publishers via NetGalley: 7972, to be precise. That’s a 17.6% return on approved galley requests.

So that’s the latest from the NetGalley world. I look forward to connecting with you!

Happy Reading,
Lindsey

Digital Concierge
NetGalley

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We interrupt this public service blog for an announcement from our sponsor, NetGalley…

When I recently announced that NetGalley had reached the milestone of 5,000 registered members, I promised more info about our community of professional readers – who they are, how they read, etc. The data below was drawn from internal statistics on our site as well as a recent online survey answered by over 655 NetGalley members.

Who they are

As you might expect, the biggest community using NetGalley is reviewers – including bloggers and print reviewers – making up about 50% of total registered members. The remaining 50% is a mix of librarians, booksellers, educators, and media.

How they read

Though nostalgia for printed books and galleys remains high on blogs, twitter discussions and in other venues, our members are inclined to read digitally if it means faster access to new titles. A whopping 71% see “quick access to new galleys” as the biggest draw to digital galleys. And well over three-quarters of the respondents will read either print or digital galleys, with only 12% responding “I will only read print galleys.”

Also mirroring wider trends in reading devices, just over 60% read galleys by downloading them to their computer. As for dedicated reading devices, Amazon’s Kindle was the winner at 16%. The Sony Reader was next in line at 12%, with Barnes & Noble’s new Nook at only 5%.

NOTE: We conducted our survey before the iPad hit stores. In addition, the iPad currently does not support DRM-ed (protected) files – so the only galleys from NetGalley that can be read on that device are galleys that the publishers are offering as DRM-free (open) files. To date, the majority of galleys offered on NetGalley come with DRM; logically, since most publishers do not want pre-pub files distributed. More on this topic in a later post.

Why they like digital galleys

After quick access to new galleys, our members appreciate digital galleys for what they can provide that print galleys can’t: mainly,

  • Being able to “read on the go” (49%)
  • Searchability inside the galley (34%)
  • Full-color reading and images (25%)

In the age of immediacy, when news becomes old before it even makes it to print (thanks, Twitter!), being able to email a direct link to a digital galley is a pretty awesome tool in the publicist’s tool belt.

It also makes sense that the ease of skimming and searching digital galleys makes them attractive to professional readers who may not need to read the entire text – like TV/radio producers looking for experts and journalists writing off-the-book-page-features.

In addition, most professional readers don’t have early access to four-color pre-pub materials for illustrated and graphic-heavy books (like cookbooks, children’s titles, etc) – meaning that professional readers might not otherwise see these titles (or only see a few pages in BLADs) before they arrive in stores.

A Book Critic’s View

During a recent chat with book critic Bethanne Patrick (the host of WETA.org’s Book Studio, who we’ve interviewed in the past, known to her fellow tweeters as @TheBookMaven), I got a few more insights on the advantages of digital galleys. Bethanne said she loves how digital galleys allow her to preview a book, to see if she’d even want the printed galley. When bookshelf space is at a premium for reviewers, she appreciates getting an email from a publicist with a link to the digital galley that says “take a look and let me know if you want a printed galley.”

Bethanne also sees value in the one-stop-shopping aspect of NetGalley:

  • When she decides she wants a printed galley after viewing the digital version, she can just hit the EMAIL PUBLISHER button right in the title record in NetGalley.
  • She can also access the Digital Press Kit materials – where publishers can include the press release, tour schedule, author Q&A, audio/video clips, cover images, etc.
  • By sending her reviews to publishers via NetGalley, she hopes to appease publicists who still ask for tear-sheets of reviews.

Finally, Bethanne added that even when she had read an entire galley in printed form, she still liked to have a digital copy while writing her review. That way, she could quickly find a certain page or passage in a window alongside her review, without having to take off/put on her glasses while switching from the printed page to her computer screen. It’s the little things, right?

I’m excited that support of digital galleys is growing and—best of all—publishers and readers alike are finding new ways and reasons to appreciate the format.

As always, I’m open to any and all feedback – we love hearing from you!

All best,

Lindsey Rudnickas

your friendly Digital Concierge at NetGalley

Follow me on Twitter: @NetGalley

Become a fan of our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/NetGalley

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We interrupt this public service blog for an announcement from our sponsor, NetGalley…

As any of our loyal NetGalley members know, we recently had a makeover in some key areas of www.netgalley.com. Around the same time, we asked our members to take a short survey to get some feedback about how they were reading galleys and how we could better serve them. I thought it’d be fun to share some of our findings – and perhaps even start a larger conversation about these hot topics. While this post will focus mostly on the NetGalley side of things, stay tuned for a related post about overall trends.

We were psyched when what we lovingly-named our “Reader Release” went live. Stemming directly from feedback from our members (“professional readers” made up of reviewers, media professionals, bloggers, librarians, booksellers, and educators), we worked hard to make it easier to find and request galleys.

That meant a catalog revamp – not just a fresh overall look, but also a bunch of exciting changes, including…

See more about each title:
•    Now ISBN and Genre show in the main catalog view

Browse instantly in several ways:
•    Browse by Titles Recently Added
•    Browse by Publisher
and best of all…
•    Browse by Genre (This change was greeted very warmly, indeed!)

Narrow down with Sorting and Searching:
•    Sort by Date Added, Most Requested, Title, Publisher, Imprint, Author, and Pub Date
•    Search by Author, Title, Imprint, Publisher, and Genre


My favorite one of these is the Most Requested sort. How cool that I can see (and you can see too!) the…

Top 10 Most Requested Titles on NetGalley (as of today):
1. The Iron Daughter (Harlequin)
2. The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors (The Crown Publishing Group)
3. My Soul to Keep (Harlequin)
4. The Oracle of Dating (Harlequin)
5. The Case for Books (PublicAffairs)
6. Chasing Perfect (Harlequin)
7. Manifest (Harlequin)
8. The Clearing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
9. What’s New, Cupcake? (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
10. BOOK: THE SEQUEL (PublicAffairs)

But, we couldn’t just stop at the catalog. Our homepage got a facelift, too – with new navigation so readers can easily find the information they seek, as well as a special “What’s New at NetGalley” area. Personally, I’m a big fan of the sleek buttons we added, too.

Lastly, we updated our QUICK BROWSE reading option. Our new online viewer includes some great benefits, including easier page-turning and ZOOM!

Oh, and one more cool thing: we added a SHARE button to our Buzz Page – so now you can tell others which titles spark your interest. Post it on Twitter, Facebook, and a ton of other places — just roll your cursor over the word “share” to see all the different options.

My favorite is how now you can EMAIL IT TO A FRIEND with the envelope icon.

Lastly, I’m proud to announce that we’ve reached the milestone of 5,000 registered members! That includes: publishers, traditional book reviewers, media professionals (radio/tv producers, journalists, etc), booksellers, bloggers, librarians, and educators (for exam/desk copies).

More to come in my next post about our member community – who they are and how they read – and I look forward to a larger dialogue about overall e-reading trends!

As always, I’m open to any and all feedback – we love hearing from you :)

All best,

Lindsey Rudnickas

your friendly Digital Concierge at NetGalley

Follow me on Twitter: @NetGalley

Become a fan of our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/NetGalley

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When it comes to building online communities around books, authors and publishing imprints, what are the top social media platforms and analytical tools? To what extent can the results of these online efforts be tied to increased book sales? And which independent publishers are ahead of the game, and what obstacles do they face?

These are some of the questions we explore in the second part of my conversation about building online communities with social media consultant Jesse McDougall, which picks up where we left off in Tuesday’s interview

Q&A with Jesse McDougall

What are the top two or three technologies have you found most valuable in engaging audiences online?

Twitter for daily conversation. A blog as a conduit for book, author, and community content. Blip.tv for serving up high-resolution video with no size or time restrictions.

For tracking your success and progress, ChartBeat, HootSuite, and Google Analytics are essential.

What concrete results have you achieved so far?

In the first year after Chelsea Green implemented the new social strategy, the company roughly doubled their web traffic. Eighteen months after launch, traffic regularly spiked to 150% over the starting point. In that time, Chelsea Green added several thousand people to the e-newsletter mailing list, grew to become the second-most-followed book publisher on Twitter, and established weekly content delivery relationships with top blogs in the niche (Huffington Post, PlanetGreen, Alternet, etc.). Also. many of Chelsea Green’s authors were invited to become regular contributors on many of these same blogs—increasing the exposure to new and major audiences.

To what extent can you tie your results to increased book sales?

At the present time, the effect social media promotions on book sales can be difficult to track. The only time a publisher can directly track sales from online promotion is if a person learns of a book “out in the digital wild” and then follows the accompanying link back to the publisher’s online bookstore where he or she purchases the book. If the person decides instead to purchase the book from their favorite local bookseller, or from a different online retailer, that sale is difficult (or impossible) to track directly back to online promotional efforts.

The best a publisher can do—if they would like to prove that their social media strategy improves sales—is to boost their own site traffic through social media outreach, and then focus on boosting their own site’s sales conversion rate to do a better job of converting the new traffic to sales.

Which publishers do you see as most effectively marketing their books this way?

Chelsea Green, obviously, is still doing a great job. O’Reilly is another great example. Greywolf Press in Minneapolis is doing a great job on Twitter. The keys to being effective are consistency, personality, and community involvement. These are not one-way media channels, they require that participants speak AND listen. The presses above do a great job of that.

What are the biggest obstacles for independent presses in building and maintaining these online audiences?

Time and staff. Some of these campaigns require significant upkeep. It can be difficult to find the time and people to maintain a consistent presence on any of these social media platforms. The key is to do something every (week) day—whether you can afford five people for five hours, or one person for ten minutes. People who reach out and contact you in any fashion on Twitter or Facebook or your blog will need a response, or they’ll disappear.

Do you see any downside to giving away books or content online?

Books should be owned and content should be free. Content is stolen when publishers make it easier to steal than to buy. By locking up digital content with DRM or asking readers to sign unholy licenses or making content exclusive to one vendor, publishers are making it more attractive to snub the law and steal (and distribute) the digital content than to buy it. Publishers should offer digital books and chapters for sale for a slightly reduced price straight from their web sites in an open-source (or universal) format. Currently, a DRM-free PDF gets my vote, but I see room for something better.

What technological tools or developments are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

I’m looking forward to the development of mobile media. I think that high-quality digital content delivery through mobile devices with screens big enough for reading long-format books will revolutionize book reading and book content. Paper books will continue to have their place and incredible value. Lifelong readers recognize that and will continue to buy paper books for their unique virtues. Electronic devices will never be as good as paper books for quiet, powerless, peaceful reading.

However, once high-quality digital mobile content delivery is done well, book content can grow beyond paper and e-ink devices. Books will slowly evolve to look more like web pages, with links, supplemental videos, audio clips, and the book publisher’s intended formatting and design. Of course, plain text should still be an option for readers who don’t want to be bothered with the flash and bother of videos, etc., but the option for all the bells and whistles we’re already used to on the web should be available as well. The ability to include such ancillary content will provide publishers with an entirely new product that offers more than the bound book can or should. This new product could be a powerful new revenue stream.

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This Friday, January 29, Gretchen Rubin, author of  the memoir The Happiness Project and the popular blog by the same name, joins host Charlotte Abbott for our weekly #FollowReader chat from 4-5pm ET.

The Happiness Project book was an instant New York Times bestseller earlier this month. The blog has appeared on Slate as well as the Huffington Post and other sites – and more than 33,000 people have signed up for the monthly newsletter. 

Gretchen Rubin has published four books and written three unpublished novels— now safely locked in a drawer, she says. She began her career as a lawyer – starting as editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – before becoming a full-time writer.

Among the topics we’ll explore on Friday: 

  • How Gretchen developed her blog while writing her book, and was picked up as a featured blogger by Slate and the Huffington Post, while also using Twitter to drive traffic to her blog
  • How she differentiated her blog from her book, and convinced even her most loyal weekly readers that her memoir would be fresh and rewarding enough to buy in hardcover
  • How she lay the groundwork for her national book tour by engaging her blog readers, and other factors that helped her memoir become an instant New York Times bestseller

Here’s a taste of what Gretchen has to say about planning her book tour:

“When I asked my readers whether they would come see me if I came to their town, I figured I’d just get a few responses, but I was curious to see what people would say.

But the response was fabulous! Last time I checked, 700 people had replied to my question! I was dumbfounded – and thrilled by the enthusiasm, as you can imagine.

Of those 700, a lot of replies came from towns that would be hard to add to a tour – Anchorage, Alaska say – and a surprising number of people responded from overseas. It was great to have this new way to get a feel for my readership, and I could see interesting “hot spots.” For example, I was struck by the number of people who responded from Philadelphia, but then I remembered that the Univ. of Pennsylvania offers a program for Masters in Applied Positivity Psychology, so maybe that has something to do with it.

To join the #followreader conversation, here’s what to do:  

  1. On Friday, January 25, just before 4pm ET,  log in to Twitter or whatever interface you prefer. (We recommend Tweetchat, which refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.)
  2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader
  3. I’ll start by asking Gretchen Rubin (@gretchenrubin) a few questions, before opening up the discussion to the group.
  4. To post a comment to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet you write. 

 If you can’t join the discussion, watch this space next week for a recap of the highlights.  

Have a topic you wish we would cover? Please feel free to suggest topics for upcoming #followreader chats below.   Happiness Project Book trailer  

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BABY NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year everybody!

Hope your holiday season has been lovely. I’ve been spending time with family and friends, traveling just the littlest bit, and relaxing in preparation for 2010 – a year, and the start of a brand new decade-both bound to be full of more challenges, excitement and wonderful opportunities for the world of book publishing and reading.

In honor of the occasion of a brand new year, #FollowReader tomorrow will be a very casual Twitter Open House. I’ll be hosting, and you can find me on Twitter from 4 pm to 5pm ET. (Truth be told, I’ll probably be there long before and long after, as well).

While there’s no official topic, our good friend and blogger, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind‘s Sarah Weinman (@SarahW) spurred a possible discussion thread: How can book blogs best help fill the void left by the loss of KIRKUS?

Hopefully, Sarah will be able to join us – and hopefully many of us will be around to chat in a casual and optimistic conversation about the year ahead for books!

If you can’t join the discussion, watch this space next week for a recap of the highlights.

To join the #followreader conversation on Friday, here’s what to do:

1. Just before 4pm ET, log in to Twitter or whatever interface you use (we recommend Tweetchat)
2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader
3. I’ll start by asking a few questions.
4. To post to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet

NOTE: TweetChat refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.

Please feel free to suggest topics for upcoming #followreader chats below.

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Being a book lover does not preclude one from pursuing other passions. In fact, for some readers, books bring a whole new level of appreciation to their other favorite pass times, and vice versa.

Book bloggers David Gutowski, Josh Christie, and Vera Marie Badertscher are three such individuals. For each of them, blogging is the perfect outlet for combining their loves of literature with their loves for a little something else – music, beer, and travel respectively. Along the way, they’ve entertained and enriched the lives of countless of their readers.

Learn about each of them, and how they came to be bloggers of books and more, below:

David Gutowski of LargeHeartedBoy

David Gutowski of the blog, Largehearted Boy.
From the “about the blog” – Largehearted Boy is a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.

Which love came first, books or music?

Books were my first love. Growing up, there were always books in my house of all age levels, and my parents (both voracious readers) encouraged me to read from an early age.

How do you choose the books/authors for Book Notes? Are they books you are already reading, and you approach the authors to participate, or do you get submissions from authors? Or do they just happen?

When the series began in 2005, I would approach publishers about specific titles I had read and enjoyed. Now I am sent a multitude of books every week by publishers, publicists and authors to choose from. I still only choose books I personally enjoy for the series, though, and often get good suggestions from bloggers, friends, and even booksellers.

Not surprisingly, publicists have come to recognize my taste (the series mostly features literary fiction and nonfiction), so the bulk of my review pile consists of good candidates for the series. Over the past couple of years authors who have already contributed to the series have been probably the most surprising source of new submissions.

I don’t accept unsolicited submissions by authors or publicists. My criteria for inclusion in the series is simple, I have to enjoy the book (and I have been known to be quite picky).

Same question only different – How do you choose the musicians who write Note Books? Do you already know them and ask, or do they ask you if they can?

I have approached a majority of the musicians in the Note Books series directly, I try to focus that series on songwriters I greatly admire.

One of the reasons I started the Book Notes and Note Books series was that I would continually be impressed by music referenced by authors in interviews, and books named by musicians as their favorites. These series not only enlighten the blog’s readers, but also myself.

When starting the series I assumed musicians would be more receptive to writing about books than authors writing about music. I underestimated both the time available to musicians and the music love of writers.

As a rule, do you listen to music while reading?

I do. I keep two baskets of incoming mail just below my stereo in my office, music and books, and sample both throughout the day. I have always been able to multi-task, and reading while listening to music has never been a problem for me.

What’s your all time favorite pairing of music and book?

A friend of mine just asked me what music would pair well with Flannery O’Connor short stories, and I recommended anything by Sigur Ros. I tested the combination yesterday and found that Icelandic indie rock plus Southern Gothic fiction works remarkably well together.

Are you excited about the changes taking place in the publishing world? What hopes/fears do you  have for books, authors, and readers?

I love the way authors are increasingly leveraging the internet to get direct access to their readers. Whether it is their own websites, forums, blogs, or guest essays and interviews. I am incredibly excited to see authors both approachable and humanized through their online interaction.

I worry that as a whole, people are reading less, but I never lose sleep over the quality of writing today. I am amazed almost every day by books from presses big and small.

My biggest concern is the plight of the independent bookstore in the digital age, especially with the growing use of e-books.

David Gutowski
Largehearted Boy: http://blog.largeheartedboy.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/largeheartedboy
Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/DGfacebook

Josh Christie of Brews and Books

Josh Christie
of the blog Brews and Books
From the “about the blog” – Brews and Books is a site for everyone’s inner Hemingway – a site about books with a healthy passion for alcohol.  Er, maybe a better example is everyone’s inner Sam Calagione, an English-major-turned-brewer.  Wait, that isn’t perfect either.  BrewsAndBooks.com is a site for everyone that loves a good book in one hand and a good beer in the other.  The blog first arose out of a desire to share reviews of well-written books and lovingly-brewed beer.  The site has evolved slightly from this original purpose, and now shares news in the brewing, publishing, bookselling and beer worlds along with reviews and editorial content.

So, why beer and books? Where did the idea come from, and have you found kindred spirits?

Basically, I didn’t think I had enough to say about either topic by itself.  While I’m a lifelong reader and love craft beer, I’d hesitate to call myself an expert on either topic.  At the time I started the blog, I knew far less about beer than I do now.  While I could talk a bit about the dominant flavors and experience of drinking a beer, I just didn’t know enough about the topic to put out a half-dozen posts a week.  Similarly, my job as a bookseller made books a natural topic for me to dive into, but I’ve never been particularly good at talking about books critically.  I’d heard from a lot of bloggers that the two most factors in making a good blog are a passion for your topic and the ability to update regularly, and I figured I’d be able to write more if I wasn’t focusing on one niche.

I’ve found a few kindred spirits in other bloggers, authors, and brewers.  I tend to focus on independent booksellers and independent breweries, and the entrepreneurial, indie spirit links these industries.  If you look at the number of authors that (for good or ill) enjoyed beer a bit too much, or at the number of brewers that have written books (Dogfish’s Sam Calagione even has an English degree), I’m a bit surprised no one jumped on the book and beer idea before me.

What’s your all time fave brew?

This is one that probably changes every week.  Although I’d probably get some flak in the beer geek community for saying it, my favorite beer isn’t one of the “white whales” out there; the rare, expensive superbeers that people seek out, wait in line for or buy on eBay.  Instead, my fave is one I love for totally sentimental reasons – Alaskan Brewing’s Alaskan Amber.

When I was finishing up my Political Science degree, I spent half of my senior year living out in Juneau, AK.  I was travelling alone, I had just turned 21, and I’d be living further from my family than I ever had before.  After a long flight from New England to Seattle, I bought a pint of the Amber in Seattle while waiting for my connection to Juneau.  It is a simple, crisp and slightly nutty amber ale, and the taste and experience have made it my favorite ever since.

Fave book?

This one is a bit more critically lauded – Michael Chabon‘s Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  I love Chabon’s elegant writing style, and the topic of comic book superheroes is right in my roadhouse.  I’m a big booster of genre fiction and graphic novels, and it was great to read a book that dealt with the subject matter in a mature, engaging way.  Being part of the book blogging community has also given me a couple new favorites in the last year, including Toltz A Fraction of the Whole, which I read at the urging of Ann Kingman from Books on the Nightstand.

Fave blog (other than your own)?

Whew, that’s a tough question for a guy that gets hundreds of posts in his Google Reader every day.  For books, I love independent blogs like Largehearted Boy, Books on the Nightstand, and Bookgasm.  For book news and reviews, I always read GalleyCat and the Onion AV Club, and there is stellar content going up from bookstores like Northshire and Inkwell on an almost daily basis.  In terms of beer blogs, I’ve really been enjoying the Hop Press on RateBeer.com.  I’ll admit that I’m a blogger for the site, but don’t think that’s the only reason it’s a favorite.  There baker’s dozen of weekly columnists are some of the best beer writers on the internet, and are diverse in age, location, writing topics and areas of expertise.

Beyond brew and book blogs, I check iFanboy, NPR’s Monkey See, Destructoid, io9 and the Slate blogs every day.

What’s the best thing about blogging on books and beer?

Is it uncool to say the free beer and free books?

In all seriousness, the best thing about the blog is turning people on to good beer and good books.  One of the great things about writing on two topics is that beer lovers who may never pick up a book will see book content on my blog and find a new favorite novel.

Similarly, readers who might have never tried good beer – real beer – will end up trying and loving something like a witbier or a chocolat  tarted the site because I’m passionate about both topics, and seeing people find a new favorite beer or book because of me is probably the coolest feeling in the world.

Anything about it not to your liking?

Like Gary Vaynerchuk says, blogging can be hard work.  There are thousands of abandoned blogs out there with authors that just lost interest or couldn’t motivate themselves to write, and sometimes I feel like it’d be nice to take a week off and not write about anything.  Other than that, I’m sure my complaints are the simple things that every blogger mentions – spam comments, disappearing articles, trolls and technical difficulties.  Luckily, there isn’t anything that has made my motivation wane since starting Brews and Books about ten months ago.
Josh Christie

Vera Marie Badertscher of the blog, A Traveler’s Library
From the “about the blog” -SHORT VERSION: Here at the Library, we will wander the globe, in no particular order, ignoring the Dewey Decimal system, the alphabet, continental boundaries, or any other artificial organization.

What inspired you to create a blog devoted to pairing books with travel destinations?

I wanted to start a travel-related blog.  Everyone advises blogging about something you love, and travel and books are my two great loves.  As I read travel listserves and travel sites with user participation, I noticed that any time someone asked for a suggestion for books to read related to their trip, it generated a long list of replies. I searched the Internet for a web site or blog that provided books that inspire travel and found that while many came close to that subject, none hit it exactly. Voila! I then realized that movies have been as important as books in inspiring travel, so I found a name that would include movies as well as books.

How long has Traveler’s Library been in existence?

I started January 10, 2009.

How do you choose what books/locations to blog about?

Generally I put new books with strong presentation of culture or place at the top of my list, and love to develop contacts in publishing who alert me to their new books that fit; next come those that are on my shelf that I have already read–which means a lot of Greece since that is my main love; next I take the suggestions of my readers. Believe me, my readers have supplied me with enough suggestions to keep a blog going for several years. They are well read and contribute valuable information. Through it all, I keep an eye on current events and historic occasions that I can tie in to the blog posts.

Which of your posts are you proudest of/like best (so far)?

Oh boy, that’s tough. Probably the one I have not written yet–because in my mind they always sound so much better than when they are finished. I am passionate about the subject of my very first post, which concerns the repatriation of ancient artifacts, and the book Loot. Related to that, I devoted a whole week to literature (and theater) related to Greece leading up to the opening of the New Acropolis Museum and my soapbox of getting back the Elgin marbles. Amazingly, my quote from Lord Byron’s Childe Harold regarding Lord Elgin drew an enormous readership. I enjoy interviewing authors and had a lot of fun with Simon Cox who wrote Decoding the Lost Symbol. While he is an inveterate researcher who seems to study just about everything, I enjoyed hearing him say that he actually does research as an excuse to travel.I could go on all day. Better stop there, before I list all my posts.

How do you find guest bloggers for your blog?

I meet other bloggers through Twitter and through other social networking tools. When I read the posts of a blogger who writes well and seems to have a feeling for literature and travel, particularly if they have some experience with a part of the world I have not been in, I ask him/her to do a guest blog for me. Also, sometimes people who comment on my blog get roped in.

What book blogs do you love, and why?

I tend to read more travel blogs than book blogs. Just because since I hired myself for this job of reviewing books that influence travel, I don’t have time left over to read outside those lines. That said, I particularly like Angela Nickerson‘s A Gypsy’s Guide. Novel Destinations takes the traveler to the home of an author, or place of famous literature. The Heiroglyphic Streets covers books for the traveler, as I do, but excerpts reviews from around the web. I like their approach, and wish they were better known, actually.

Your favorite travel destination is Greece, but what’s your all time favorite book?

You saw how much trouble I had choosing with your questions up above. With a lifetime of reading, a collection of books that tumbles out of bookshelves onto tables and floors, a well-worn library card–who can choose?
Vera Marie Badertscher
A Traveler’s Library: http://atravelerslibrary.com/

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Do you have a favorite book blog? Share it with us in the comments!

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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)

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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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