When is the best time to run a book review?
A couple bloggers emailed this weekend letting me know about reviews for a book on which I’m working. Great news — except the book isn’t on sale for a month. Grrr. Then again, in book publicity (or any publicity, really) we’re always seeking to generate early buzz. And isn’t this early buzz? Hmmm.
If you enjoy overanalyzing book publishing issues — as you well know I do — here are a few to consider. Once upon a time, before the Internet, publishers always wanted book reviews to run on or after the publication dates of books, since early reviews only frustrated eager readers unable to find books in stores. That’s changed a little since most readers are now well-versed in the practice of preordering books from online booksellers. Nevertheless, many of us still tend to prefer reviews run on or around the publication dates of books since it seems that many consumers prefer items to be shipped on or around the time they click “Buy.” Or do they?
Publishing trade publications are one obvious exception to this pub-date rule, primarily because readers are not ordinary consumers but bookstore buyers, journalists covering the book industry and others who must plan their purchases / coverage weeks or months ahead of time. Quarterly or bi-annual publications are another exception for obvious reasons.
Another issue for journalists and bloggers to consider when publishing reviews is that publishers receive finished books about six weeks before they go on sale, so just because you’re looking at a book (and not a galley / ARC) doesn’t mean books are available for sale. Check the press material (or online) for the publication date so if you do run the review early, you can at least make readers aware of that fact.
A third publication date-related issue that can get confusing is when books go on sale in different countries on different dates (a somewhat common occurrence). The safest tactic is to request a book from the publishing house in the country where most of the blog’s readers live and use that book’s pub date — if a blog is popular in the UK, for example, request a book from the UK publisher and use the British book’s publication date.
So I’m wondering: as a reader, do you preorder books about which you’ve read a week — or a month — ahead of time regardless of the on-sale date? Or given a choice between a book that’s available now and one available at some point in the future, would you buy the book currently on sale (assuming both appear to be equally enticing)?