Posts Tagged ‘Sony Reader’

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,

Digital Concierge

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One of the biggest challenges for publishers is tapping into the web’s inexpensive viral marketing while preventing the loss of sales and content due to theft. Oh, is that word too harsh? Theft? I bring that up because on one side of the coin, publishers don’t want to make their valued readers feel like potential criminals. But, on the other side of the coin, publishers are entrusted with authors’ content and don’t want it to lose potential profits either while sending out ARCs for review.

Let’s look at airport security for a second. It’s analogous. Airlines’ passengers, the very people who they rely on for business are treated much like criminals when poked and prodded through airport security.

Readers, who publishers rely on for reviews and buzz, may feel just as hassled and put out as airline passengers when they receive digitally rights managed (DRM) galleys. First, they have to figure out the type of DRM galley they’ve been sent. Maybe they have a Sony Reader but the DRM galley they received only works on Kindles. Or, they’re sick of reading things on their computer but the DRM galley can only be read on their computer and is not downloadable to their Kindle.

One way to avoid this is to survey your readers. Know your audience, right? Their reading habits have changed with the times. Find out if the majority of your readers use a Sony Reader, Kindle, Nook, iPhone, or other reader then offer those reading options. If you don’t already have a survey service, http://surveymonkey.com/  is great for a quick, free survey.  And, if you use NetGalley, then work with our Digital Concierge, Lindsey Rudnickas, to make sure your titles have the appropriate reading options available for your readers.

Another route to go, if you’d like to offer DRM-free, or open ARCs, so that they can be more easily passed from one person to the next, is to provide just the index and a few chapters of a galley, to get the benefit of generating buzz without all the risk. Digital galleys, unlike traditional printed ARCs, which are passed around as well, give publishers more control over how much of the content readers can view.

Let’s not forget our friends the excerpt. HTML excerpts are another way to give readers a taste of what a book has to offer without throwing the content to the wind. Just remember to use it as you would all marketing material with a call to action at the end. What would you like interested readers to do? If you’re a member of NetGalley you could provide a link to your title and suggest that interested readers request the galley now, or email the excerpt to a friend.

If you’re thinking, that’s fine, but a tad dull, add some video and or author audio clips to the DRM-free PDF you send to readers.  No matter how you dress up an ARC, it’s hard to include video and audio as easily and inexpensively as you can with a PDF (http://www.totalwebvideo.com/pdfmedia/pdfmedia.html). The benefit of digital galleys is that they can plug into so much more than their analog counterparts. 

With a little creative thinking publishers can use digital galleys to generate more buzz more easily and inexpensively than with printed galleys, without feeling like they’re giving away content for free.

 Additional Resources

E-Reader Matrix and supported formats: http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix

Adobe Content Server (ACS4) can provide DRM galleys for a number of devices including the nook and Sony readers. To see a complete list: http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/devices/

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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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OK, sounds dramatic, but trust me, mark down October 19, 2009 as a day to remember.

ia logo

Rarely, in my career have I been “blown away” by a demonstration.  Tonight, “blown away” doesn’t even begin to describe it.  I should have seen it coming, but, I didn’t.  I was completely blindsided.  I was blindsided by the vision of Brewster Kahle, the raw brilliance of his team, and the entire group of individuals and companies who played a role in Brewster’s “convocation”.

Brewster Kahle

Brewster Kahle

What I saw, was many of the dreams and visions of e-book aficionados everywhere becoming a demonstrable reality tonight.  I say ‘demonstrable’, because by Brewster’s own admission, it’s not ready for prime time, but the demonstration was enough to make my head spin with the possibilities.  But you don’t really want to know that, so let me do my best to just report what I saw.

Let’s start from the beginning…

Tonight, Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive Founder and Chief Librarian, introduced what he calls his “BookServer” project.  BookServer is a framework of tools and activities. It is an open-architectured set of tools that allow for the discoverability, distribution, and delivery of electronic books by retailers, librarians, and aggregators, all in a way that makes for a very easy and satisfying experience for the reader, on whatever device they want.

Now that may sound fairly innocuous, but let me try to walk through what was announced, and demonstrated  (Please forgive me if some names or sequences are wrong, I’m trying to do this all from memory):

  • Brewster announced that the number of books scanned at libraries all over the world has increased over the past year from 1 million books to 1.6 million books.
  • He then announced that all of these 1.6 million books were available in the ePub format, making them accessible via Stanza on the iPhone, on Sony Readers, and many other reading devices in a way that allows the text to re-flow if the font has been changed.
  • Next he announced that not only were these files available in ePub form, but that they were available in the “Daisy” format as well.  Daisy is the format used to create Braille and Text to Speech software interpretations of the work.
  • There were other statistics he cited related to other mediums such as 100,000 hours of TV recordings, 400,000 music recordings, and 15 billion (yes it’s a ‘b’) web pages that have been archived.
  • He then choreographed a series of demonstrations.  Raj Kumar from Internet Archive demonstrated how the BookServer technology can deliver books  to the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) XO laptop, wirelessly.  There are 1 million of these machines in the hands of underprivileged children around the world, and today they just got access to 1.6 million new books.
  • Michael Ang of IA then demonstrated how a title in the Internet Archive which was available in the MOBI format could be downloaded to a Kindle – from outside the Kindle store – and then read on the Kindle.  Because many of these titles were in the Mobi format as well, Kindle readers everywhere also have access to IA’s vast database.
  • Next up, Mike McCabe of IA, came up and demonstrated how files in the Daisy format could be downloaded to a PC then downloaded to a device from Humana, specifically designed for the reading impaired.  The device used Text-to-speech technology to deliver the content, but what was most amazing about this device was the unprecedented ease at which a sight impaired person could navigate around a book, moving from chapter to chapter, or to specific pages in the text.
  • Brewster took a break from the demonstrations  to elaborate a couple of facts, the most significant of which was the fact the books in the worlds libraries fall into 3 categories. The first category is public domain, which accounts for 20% of the total titles out there – these are the titles being scanned by IA.  The second category is books that are in print and still commercially viable, these account for 10% of the volumes in the world’s libraries.  The last category are books that are “out of print” but still in copyright.  These account for 70% of the titles, and Brewster called this massive amount of information the “dead zone” of publishing.  Many of these are the orphan titles that we’ve heard so much about related to the Google Book Settlement – where no one even knows how to contact the copyright holder.  (To all of my friends in publishing, if you let these statistics sink in for a minute, your head will start to spin).
  • Brewster went on to talk about how for any digital ecosystem to thrive, it must support not just the free availability of information, but also the ability for a consumer to purchase, or borrow books as well.
  • At this point, Michael came back out and demonstrated – using the bookserver technology – the purchase of a title from O’Reilly on the Stanza reader on the iPhone – direct from O’Reilly – not from Stanza.  If you are a reader, you may think that there is nothing too staggering about that, but if you are a publisher, this is pretty amazing stuff.  Stanza is supporting the bookserver technology, and supporting the purchase of products direct from publishers or any other retailer using their technology as a delivery platform.  (Again, friends in publishing, give that one a minute to sink in.)
  • The last demonstration was not a new one to me, but Raj came back on and he and Brewster demonstrated how using the Adobe ACS4 server technology, digital books can be borrowed, and protected from being over borrowed from libraries everywhere.  First Brewster demonstrated the borrowing process, and then Raj tried to borrow the same book but found he couldn’t because it was already checked out.  In a tip of the hat to Sony, Brewster then downloaded his borrowed text to his Sony Reader.  This model protects the practice of libraries buying copies of books from publishers, and only loaning out what they have to loan. (Contrary to many publishers fears that it’s too easy to “loan” unlimited copies of e-Books from libraries).
  • In the last piece of the night’s presentation, Brewster asked many of the people involved in this project to come up and say a few words about why they were here, and what motivated them to be part of the project.  The sheer number of folks that came out were as impressive as the different constituencies they represented.  By the end of this the stage was full of people, including some I know, like Liza Daly (Three Press), Mike Tamblyn (Shortcovers), and Andrew Savikas (O’Reilly).  Others, I didn’t know included Hadrien Gradeur (Feedbooks), the woman who invented the original screen for the OLPC, a published author, a librarian from the University of Toronto, Cartwright Reed from Ingram, and a representative from Adobe.

After the night was over, I walked all the way back to the Marina district where I was staying.  The opportunities and implications of the night just absolutely made my head spin.  I am completely humbled to be asked to be here and to witness this event.

In one fell swoop, the Internet Archive expanded the availability of books to millions of people who never had access before, bringing knowledge to places that had never had it.  Who knows what new markets that will create, or more importantly what new minds will contribute to our collective wisdom as a result of that access.  In the same motion, Brewster demonstrated a world where free can coexist with the library borrowing model, and with the commercial marketplace.  Protecting the interests of both of those important constituencies in this ecosystem.  He also, in the smoothest of ways, portrayed every ‘closed system’ including our big retail friends and search engine giants, as small potatoes.

I will have to post again about the implications of all this, but people smarter than me – many of whom I was able to meet today, will be far more articulate about what just happened.  I’m still too blown away.  I know this, it was a ‘game changer’ day.  It may take a couple of years to come to full fruition, but we will be able to pinpoint the spot in history when it was all shown to be possible.  I need to thank Peter Brantley for inviting (or should I say tempting) me to be there. Wow.

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We interrupt this public service blog to bring you an update about its sponsor – NetGalley.

This morning we are making a couple of announcements.  The first being one that I promised a while ago: NetGalley CAN NOW SUPPORT THE SONY READER!  (oh it feels good to write that…)

Although a couple of months later than I hoped, NetGalley.com can deliver PDFs to Adobe Digital Editions (which is the software used by the SONY Reader and several other reading devices).  This means that Reviewers at NetGalley.com can now request versions of titles to be downloaded to their SONY Reader, as long as that option has been allowed by the publisher.  Today, Reviewers can log into NetGalley.com and request the majority of the Fall ’09 titles in our public catalog.

This is a major accomplishment for us, as it sets the stage for a whole string of enhancements and offerings that we are planning for the future.  Some of these things, I’m not ready to divulge, but one I am ready to commit to is the support of ePub files (should publishers enable them), which will happen in the very near future.

Our Reader community has been very vocal in asking for these reading options, and we are very pleased to be able to accommodate them.

In the theme of “Following the Reader,” our second announcement is the addition of Lindsey Rudnickas to our team as our “Digital Concierge” (tip of the hat to Michael Cairns for that phrase, which we’ve turned into a title).  Lindsey, a former publicist at DaCapo Press in Boston, will be the main liaison between our publisher community and our Reader community.

At Firebrand (and NetGalley), we believe that systems are tools, but people provide solutions.  Bringing Lindsey on board reinforces our vision of a company that helps connect publishers and professional readers.  Lindsey will be charged with understanding who is in our reader community, what their tastes are, and helping them find the books that best fit those tastes.  Additionally, Lindsey will be helping publishers reach beyond their traditional contact lists to find others who have a professional reason to review their titles prior to their publication.

I feel strongly that this human element will be the difference between NetGalley being a “good” service, and an “outstanding” service, and we’re really looking forward to Lindsey’s contributions.  Lindsey can be reached at lindsey [dot] rudnickas [at] netgalley [dot] com.

If you haven’t checked out NetGalley in a while, please do.  As of this writing, we have approximately 330 Fall ’09 titles from around 40 different publishers.

Stay tuned for more announcements in the coming months!

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Shhh! No one seems to have a clue about ebooks...

Shhh! No one seems to have a clue about ebooks...

Well, I apologize. Events have made this a much busier summer than usual for all of us at Follow The Reader. Therefore, I am even more behind on my posting than normal. However, as promised, here is a summary of our #FollowReader “twittersation” from July 9th on Ebook pricing and Ereading device proliferation.

Spurred by that week’s flood of announcements regarding ebooks, ereaders, the pricing of both, and the never ending menace of DRM, this #FollowReader discussion was in a word, LIVELY.

Over the course of an hour and a half (many stayed past the usual hour mark, and kept on chatting until almost 5:30PM EST), many opinions were shared, along with links to articles, statistics and other information. We had more than 80 participants and well over 600 tweets.

I’ve highlighted a few of the discussion comments below, but for the full conversation, you can search here using hashtag “followreader” and dates July 9, 2009 to July 11, 2009. (more…)

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I’m just back from BookExpo America. “Just back” being a bit of an exaggeration, since I got back to my little desert home on Monday night, but have been in “BEA Hangover” state until this morning.  Was it worth it? Well, yes and no. In my bookish opinion, this year’s BEA was pretty much business as usual in many respects, but there were a few very fantastic events and many small moments that made this year one to remember, and all of them were about connecting in real life with some of the really great people that make being in the book world really wonderful.

BEA Book Blogger Palooza

@ftoolan All the important stuff at #BEA09 is happening within 50′ of booth 4077 #followreader

Jessica Kennedy

Jessica Kennedy proudly displays her blogger trading card. (photo by SmartBitches Sarah)

The truly remarkable Mr. Fran Toolan summed up the biggest BEA highlight in the quote above. Booth #4077, the Firebrand/NetGalley Booth was THE PLACE TO BE on the show floor this year. Fran’s stroke of genius in hosting a bevy of book bloggers at the booth paid off in spades. All weekend long, enthusiastic bloggers “signed” (no really, they signed these fantastic book blogger trading cards that @PermanentPaper – aka Melissa Klug of Glatfelter Paper designed and printed) while a large flatscreen displayed tweetdeck streaming the action live on Twitter.

Let’s just say, the book blogger signings at the NetGalley booth were a huge hit. Masses of people gravitated to the booth, and for those who were unfamiliar with book blogging and bloggers prior to being pulled into the 4077th’s orbit, they didn’t stay unfamiliar for long. I’d go so far as to say lots of conference goers came away from the booth huge fans of book blogging and some even told me they were going to take up blogging themselves.

GalleyCat did a shoutout (complete with video) about it, and Verso’s Denise Berthiaume brought her video crew over to interview a few of the bloggers too. So, that’s success. To quote another esteemed bookish person who knows about such things, one Mr. Richard Nash, “Fran did a very rare thing. He created an event on the floor. It was a gathering place.”


According to all (or all I’ve heard) accounts, the BEAtweetup was also a huge success and I’m pretty sure both sponsors and guests (all upwards of 500 of them) left happy. As an organizer of said event, I was pleased as punch that it even got a good “review” from Miss Carolyn Kellog (@paperhaus to you Tweeple) in the LA Times’ Jacket Copy. And, aside from being thrilled that all went off without any noticeable hitches, I’m really glad it’s over and am planning to have a t-shirt made: “I survived the BEAtweetup of 2009.” So, thank you all you sponsors, and thank you all you organizers, and thank you all you guests who attended. I think the People’s Party needs to be a tradition. (see you next year – who wants to organize?)

But What of the Books, and Readers, and Authors, and Whatnot?

Book: The Sequel

Book: The Sequel

Oh, right. The books. Celebrating and SELLING the books. The real reason all of us were converging upon the Javits Center. Well, there were some books. There were not as many physical galleys as in previous years  (though the hot ones were in big demand — lots of people were seeking copies of Suzanne Collins’ follow-up to Hunger Games, Catching Fire), but there was a lot of action regarding various forms of new-fangled digital book stuff: digital galleys (NetGalley had a  number of new publishers sign up for their e-galley program, and Harper Collins began a trial use of Symptio e-galleys); there were some audio “galley” downloads; Perseus Book Group crowd-sourced and pumped out their flash-fried Book: The Sequel in various formats (note: this book rocks, and you can request an egalley of it at NetGalley by searching “sequel” in the catalog at netgalley.com); the Espresso digital book machine was going full force; and Above the Treeline demo’d their very cool digital catalog, Edelweiss.

As for authors and celebrating books, one particular event really warmed my heart–and made me worry about the future: the ABA’s “Celebration of Bookselling/Indies Choice Book Awards.” I’m still not sure why the good people of the ABA were kind enough to invite me (thank you, Mark Nichols), but boy was I happy to be there. Esteemed author after esteemed author (many from the Indie Next List) got up (or showed up via video) to thank the indie booksellers who have very much been responsible for making the esteemed authors esteemed.

Sherman Alexie, Suzanne Collins, Jon Scieszka, Kristin Cashore, Mo Willems, and on and on…what a cool thing to see people we worship — worshipping booksellers.  (BTW: Sarah Vowell’s video “thank you” for Wordy Shipmates being voted “best conversation starter,” was hilarious and hopefully will show up on YouTube).

What worries me…more of the same I’ve expressed here before. If our beloved and endangered indie booksellers can no longer work as indie booksellers, who is going to help us find the Sherman Alexies and Suzanne Collinses, etc.?

High Anxiety

My sense of worry over whence the indies shall go, is small potatoes compared to the practically palpable vibe of anxiety many publishers were putting out in the conference center. That’s the thing. With all the hope and new ideas and energy of change, the worry and angst from some of the bigger publishers was a real drag. In spite of there being some great educational sessions with lots of ideas for making the book world a better place in leaner times, the people who really needed to be in those sessions were all in their booths lamenting the passing of the golden era.


So, those are my first impressions of BEA09. No doubt many of you who were also there have some impressions of your own to offer. And, as always, Follow the Reader would love to hear them!



Some great posts around the web re: BEA:

PS: Join us tomorrow (Thursday, June 3rd at 1:30 PM EST) for #FollowReader! We’ll be announcing the Book Blogger Signing Sony Reader winners!

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Firebrand is thrilled to announce that 44 bloggers signed up to be at our booth (#4077) during Book Expo America.  It’s clear from how quickly this idea went from concept to reality, that book bloggers need and want to create community-to-community relationships with publishers, retailers, and readers. This is an incredibly exciting time in publishing!

We invite every publisher at BEA to review this schedule and mark their calendars, so they have a chance to meet the bloggers who are helping to sell their books.

The schedule is below. We have a couple of new entries (Sarah Weinman, Ed Champion, and Austin Allen) not listed below, or if you have trouble reading the layout below, Click Here

Friday, May 29th


The Book Maven Bethanne Patrick Books, Publishing, Current Events
Presenting Lenore Lenore Appelhans YA, General Fiction Reviews


Follow the Reader Charlotte Abbott,    Kat Meyer Professional Readers, Publishing Trends
Maw Books Natasha Maw Childrens, YA, Middle Grade, Adult, Author Interviews


GalleyCat Jason Boog Publishing, Technology
Tools of Change for Publishing Andrew Savikas Publishing, Technology, Social Media


Books on the Nightstand Ann Kingman, Michael Kindness Books, Publishing, From a publisher perspective
Beatrice.com Ron Hogan Books & Writers


Booksquare Kassia Krozser Books, Publishing, Technology, Social Media
Jenn’s Bookshelf Jennifer Lawrence Books – All Genres


The Swivet Colleen Lindsay Agenting, Publishing, General Blogging
Book Club Girl Jennifer Hart Books, Publishing,


Booking Mama Julie Peterson Books, Book Clubs, Authors
My Friend Amy Amy Riley Literary, Women’s, Christian, Historical
The Friendly Book Nook Amy Riley Kids, Middle Grade, YA Reviews,  Mysteries

Saturday, May 30th


Beth Fish Reads Candace  Levy Reviewer, Book Professional
Pop Culture Junkie Alea Adou YA Books, Chick Lit, Graphic Novels
She is Too Fond of Books Dawn Rennert Reviews, Author interviews, Publishing


Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’? Trish Collins Reviews, Author interviews, Publishing
Reviewer X Stephanie Leite YA Books
My Cozy Book Nook Molly Totaro British Classics, Contemporary Literature, Mysteries


Book Reviews by Jess Jessica Kennedy Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy and YA books
Smart Bitches Trashy Books Sarah Wendell Romance


Personanondata Michael Cairns Publishing, Technology, Social Media
Sharon Loves Cats Sharon Somers YA Books
Janicu’s book blog Janice Y Urban Fantasy, Romance, Suspense, YA books


Book Blogger Panel Hosted by Jennifer Hart
Room 1E15


The Big Picture Laura Dawson Publishing, Technology, Social Media
The Olive Reader Erica Barmash Books, Publishing, From a Publisher perspective
Literary License Gwen Dawson Contemporary Literary Fiction, Int’l Fiction/Translations


Stephanie’s Written Word Stephanie Coleman-Chan Contemporary, Historical, YA Fiction,  some Fantasy, Memoirs
Bookrastination Jay Franco Comics, Sci-Fi, Publishing Professional
Every Day I Write the Book Gayle Weiswasser Current Fiction

Sunday, May 31st


Reading the Past Sarah Johnson Historical Fiction
Literary Kicks Levi Asher Literary Fiction, Poetry


Wands and Worlds Sheila Ruth Juvenile, YA, Fantasy and Sci-Fi
Mother Reader Pam Coughlan Kid Lit, YA


Teleread Paul Biba ebooks, epublishing – News, Commentary, Analysis
Laura’s Review Book Shelf Laura McCarthy YA, General Fiction, Paranormal Romance


The Tome Traveller’s Weblog Carey Anderson Historical Fiction
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind Sarah Weinman Crime and Mystery Fiction
The Bat Segundo Show Edward Champion Culture and Literary Podcast
The Abbeville Manual of Style
Austin Allen
Arts + Culture, Literary Fiction, Book Industry Commentary

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[Update: This contest has now ended.]

As the debate over our “Free Sony Readers for Booksellers” post rages on, Unbridled Books and NetGalley have thrown some fun into the mix (disclosure – NetGalley sponsors this blog). To encourage booksellers to read e-galleys, they are challenging booksellers to come up with hand-selling pitches for Emily St. John Mandel’s debut novel,  Last Night in Montreal. The three most creative pitches will each be rewarded with a SONY ereader.

For those who want to know more about the fine art of hand selling, MJ Rose has an old but great post about this very essential skill over at Buzz, Balls, & Hype.

For more information about the contest, check out the press release below. And here’s wishing all you booksellers good luck! (If you win, can I borrow your SONY Reader? Promise I’ll give it back… eventually!)

Unbridled Books and NetGalley announce a contest inspired by author Emily St. John Mandel and our bookseller partners.

(April 20, 2009, Denver, CO) Unbridled Books and NetGalley announce a contest inspired by author Emily St. John Mandel and our bookseller partners. We want to encourage booksellers to read e-galleys, and to make this possible, we are offering a SONY Reader to the three booksellers who craft the best handselling pitches for Mandel’s debut novel, LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL (pub. date June 2). The contest runs from May 1, 2009 through midnight on June 1, 2009.

One (1) SONY Reader will be awarded to each of the three (3) winning booksellers. Unbridled Books will decide on the winners, and the winning handselling pitches will be posted on www.unbridledbooks.com and shared with media and through social networking sites. Please, only one (1) submission per bookseller.

You can download a galley of LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL right now at www.netgalley.com. [Upddate: This title is no longer available at NetGalley.]

If you want to participate, please email Unbridled Books Sales Director Steven Wallace at swallace@unbridledbooks.com“>swallace@unbridledbooks.com with your handselling pitch. Please include your name, your store name and full contact information, including email and phone number. In the email subject line, please reference SONY READER/NETGALLEY Promotion.

This contest is limited to booksellers in the United States.

For more information, please contact Caitlin Hamilton Summie, Marketing Director, at caitlin@unbridledbooks.com or 888-732-3822 (888-READ-UBB), x104 and Susan Ruszala, Director of Marketing, at Susan.Ruszala@netgalley.com“>Susan.ruszala@netgalley.com or 908-456-3383, or please visit:


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Chasing down the gossip that a consortium of big publishers are brewing a new strategy for distributing Sony Readers to book reviewers brings to mind that REO Speedwagon song:

Heard it from a friend who/ Heard it from a friend who/ Heard it from another you’ve been messin’ around.

Everyone I called admitted to thinking about getting other publishers to do the nasty, but no one wanted to be publicly identified or quoted on the record.

Of course, this is an idea that has made the rounds repeatedly in various forms over the last few years.  But now the moment just might be right - since e-readers have become almost as indispensible as Blackberries to sales reps and executives at Hachette, Random House, Simon & Schuster and other publishers, and the Kindle has become such a hot consumer commodity.

Some Quick Caveats

Before we go any further, bear in mind that no one is proposing that print galleys will immediately become archaic or that the Sony Reader is the only e-reader option. The main idea is to get e-readers into the hands of key reviewers, as an incentive to become more familiar with the advantages and (let’s be honest) the disadvantages of e-readers and e-galleys, given that they will almost certainly co-exist with print galleys for many years to come. I’m assuming here that most publishers will opt for the Sony Reader, since it doesn’t carry the charged political symbolism of the Amazon Kindle for them.

Why distributing Sony Readers to book reviewers is a good idea from the reviewer perspective:

  • Instant Access: no more days spent waiting for a print galley to arrive while a deadline looms
  • Portability: e-galleys are easier to work with on the go
  • Reduced processing costs: e-galleys are easily opened, stored, forwarded, read and archived or deleted than print galleys, which have to be shucked of their mailers, sorted and stored, mailed to other reviewers in some cases, and eventually boxed up for recycling, donation or destruction
  • Waste reduction: though designed for temporary use, print galleys are still made of trees, and shipping them around only increases their carbon footprint. Anyone who works with galleys shares in the responsibility for this.

 Why it’s a good idea from the publisher perspective:

  • Cost reduction: each galley costs $ 12 – $20 to distribute (e.g. $6- $10 to produce and $6- $10 to ship)
  • Waste reduction: see above
  • Focus on e-reading can’t hurt the e-book market
  • Proof positive that publishers are technologically forward-looking and solution-oriented

How can we prevent this from becoming a good idea that a consortium of publishers will never agree on?

Let’s take a look at the issues around distributing e-readers from the publisher standpoint, in the interest of overcoming them:

  • Are e-readers worth supporting? The jury of publishers is still out on this basic question, which includes whether electronic readers encourage more reading as print outlets diminish, and its corollary: do e-readers diminish the attention given to printed books?
  • How to maximize cost efficiency? What’s the best way to allocate minimal dollars to a maximum number of reviewers?
  • How to determine a reviewer list? Different houses favor different reviewers, after all.
  • How to navigate hierarchies of reviewers? Is it better to target the assigning editors at a publication or the freelancers who write for them? Is reaching out to some reviewers over others going to create ill will?
  • What about indie publishers? Will indie publishers in the consortium be able to attract enough respect and attention from the designated reviewers to make it worth the expense?
  • What about booksellers? Will reaching out to reviewers create resentment in other quarters – e.g. will booksellers demand their own initiatives?
  • What about platform and security issues? How to cope with the limitations of the Sony Reader or any other e-reader?

Has anyone formally asked the reviewers how they feel about all of this?

Rather than speculate about what reviewers are thinking , I’m going to stop here and open this discussion to comments from them, with the aim to get back to you, dear readers, with a synthesis of the responses within the next week or so, so we can keep this discussion going.

Questions for reviewers to consider as you respond:

  • Is it an unacceptable influence on the review process if publishers underwrite the cost of such a valuable professional tool?
  • Would it help if e-readers were loaned to reviewers, rather than granted outright?

And for those who can’t wait until the deliberations end

Here are a couple of contests you can enter to win a Sony Reader:

  • Until May 30, 2009 – Purchase key fiction titles from White Rose Publishing and enter to win. Details: http://ow.ly/2Wnn
  • Until June 9, 2009 - Purchase key romance titles from Wild Rose Press and enter to win. Details: http://ow.ly/2Wk3

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