The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Books vs. reviewers, in pictures

One of a book publicist’s jobs is to get reviews for books.  Which is tricky these days, what with the shrinking book sections (accompanied by shrinking staffs).  According to an April post on GalleyCat, traditional publishing houses published almost 300,000 books in 2009.  Now count the number of book reviews in your local newspaper.  Or on your favorite book blog.

This isn’t news, of course.  We’ve all known for years that book sections were getting leaner.  But the other day, Murderati had a post by Tess Gerritsen about what book editors are up against and I thought it was really informative and fun because she took some photos.  Gerritsen visited the offices of The Philadelphia Inquirer,  where an editor told her that the newspaper receives 800 books for review consideration every month.  Once the book department has weeded out the books they won’t cover, this is their “under consideration” pile.

And then I found more photos.

Over at the Dallas Morning News, book editor @mmerschel tweeted that he receives about 400 books a week.  Which means that if he neglects shelving books for a couple weeks, this is what happens.

These books are under consideration for coverage at I Just Finished and Stimulating Conversation: shelf 1 and shelf 2.

And these are awaiting review at Linus’s Blanket.

Every Day I Write the Book, with several “to be read” shelves (and piles), already posted lots of photos in “The TBR Pile in Pictures.”  (Her friends call her bedroom “the bookstore.”)

The upside is that book editors and bloggers LOVE.  BOOKS.  Their efforts to champion books and reading are much valued by those of us in the publishing industry.  But as the pictures illustrate all too well, there are a lot of us and not a lot of them, and that can create log jams.

One day, all (or at least most) galleys probably will be available electronically (as well as in print for those reviewers who prefer hard copies of books), searchable not only by publication date, book title and author name but also by genre and key word / phrase.  (Netgalley is a service that provides electronic galleys and has signed up several publishers as partners, but it’s been slow going.)  Book catalogs too will also be available online one day (and also searchable by publication date, title, author, genre, key word, etc.)  If reviewers can quickly, easily and securely search for what they want, that will obviate the need for book publicists to send out thousands of books — most of which end up discarded.

But until then, book reviewers, feel free to send me pictures of your “to be read” piles / shelves / bins / rooms and I will add them to the Flickr set.  Also, what are publicists doing (with regards to book mailings) that you love / hate?  And what do you think about electronic catalogs and galleys?  Would you use them?  Have you used them and what do you think?

Comments can be posted below or sent (with or without photos) to bookpublicityblog[at]gmail[dot]com.  (Let me know if you’d like your photos and / or comments to be anonymous.)

July 20, 2010 - Posted by | Book Reviews, ebooks, review copies | ,

15 Comments »

  1. What a fascinating post! I’ve often thought about the books’ destinations while arranging a reviewer mailing and the sheer volume/competition they’re up against. Michael Merschel’s photo of the overflow at the Dallas Morning News confirms my worst fears.

    Comment by Meghan Phillips | July 20, 2010 | Reply

  2. Yen, a small correction. The number you quoted is actually the number of books NOT published by traditional publishers: “Bowker reported that 764,448 titles were released in 2009 that were outside of the company’s ‘traditional publishing and classification definitions’ ” According to the post, traditional publishers released “an estimated 288,355 titles in 2009.” Smaller, but still an impressive number.

    Comment by Lauren | July 20, 2010 | Reply

    • Oops! (I just used that stat — correctly — a couple weeks ago and somehow since then the number more than doubled in my head.) Thanks for catching that blooper — I’ve corrected the figure in the post.

      Comment by Yen | July 20, 2010 | Reply

  3. To answer your questions:

    Also, what are publicists doing (with regards to book mailings) that you love / hate?
    I UNDERSTAND WHY THEY DON’T WITH TIME CRUNCHES, BUT IT WOULD BE NICE IF PUBLISHERS AND PUBLCISTS USED OUR “SUBMIT BOOKS FOR REVIEW” PAGE TO SEE WHAT GENRES OUR REVIEWERS FAVOR. I DISLIKE THE WASTE I SEE WHEN WE GET BOOKS THAT HAVE NO CHANCE OF REVIEW. (THEY ARE DONATED TO THE LIBRARY OR IF APPROPRIATE TO SCHOOL LIBRARIES.) ON THE OTHER HAND, WE LOVE GETTING PACKAGES TO FIND BOOKS THAT WE HADN’T KNOWN ABOUT, HADN’T REQUESTED, YET LOVE.

    And what do you think about electronic catalogs and galleys? ELECTRONIC CATALOGS ARE GREAT. IF YOU’D SEND THEM TO US, THAT WOULD BE EVEN BETTER BECAUSE WE OFTEN DON’T REMEMBER TO CHECK WITH PUBLISHER WEBSITES. GALLEYS? NO, NOT AT ALL.

    Would you use them? Have you used them and what do you think? NO. WE WORK ON THE COMPUTER. WE DON’T WANT TO READ ON IT, AND FEW OF US HAVE E-READERS.

    Comment by Lauren | July 20, 2010 | Reply

  4. I love love love netgalley. I really wish i got all my review copies there. But…maybe one day. I have a library and in my library I have three shelves packed full of TBR and then then two teetering piles of books off to the side of one shelf tbr and then about 60 e-files TBR. It is getting a bit ridiculous, I had to take on another reviewer to help me out.

    I wish publishers had more of a uniformed review copy system, some have databases that they may or may not update regularly and some have lists and some will send you whatever if you email them to a certain address, etc. It gets hard to keep track of, so hard that I don’t do anything with it anymore unless I really want a book, I wait for their emails and get surprise packages.

    I am emailing a pic of my TBRS🙂 Great post!

    Comment by Monica | July 20, 2010 | Reply

  5. […] is highlighting an interesting project going on over at The Book Publicity Blog, which is taking pictures of book reviewers overstuffed review copy shelves.  We thought […]

    Pingback by Too Many Books « PWxyz | July 20, 2010 | Reply

  6. Wow! The visuals make your post an eye popper. Thank you!

    S.P.

    Comment by Sarah Pinneo | July 21, 2010 | Reply

    • Glad you enjoyed the post. (I thought the pictures would be a fun way to — literally — illustrate the situation.)

      Comment by Yen | July 21, 2010 | Reply

  7. […] (The Book Publicity Blog) shared some pictures of the books versus reviews conundrum — reviewers (“real” ones and bloggers) all have a lot of books. […]

    Pingback by Monday Tally: Conflicts, Book Trailers, and Way Cool Libraries | July 25, 2010 | Reply

  8. nice post

    Comment by Thersa Reyner | October 21, 2010 | Reply

  9. Keep up the good work. It looks like there’s more depth here for future posts.

    Comment by Sandys Pizza | October 21, 2010 | Reply

  10. Netgalley is a smart idea for both reviewers and publishers, though publishers have been slow to recognize the possibilities. It could potentially save publishers large amounts since they need not produce such a volume of, or any at all, print galleys or ARC’s. It provides access for a wider variety of bloggers (including international bloggers like me who ordinarily wouldn’t have access to most print ARCS) and therefore a wider arena of readers. It’s easier for publishers to track the reviews of the book, and requires bloggers to provide reviews in a timely manner. I hope that more publishers see the benefits in digital ARCs, and also utilising their backlist titles.

    shelleyrae @ bookdout.wordpress.com

    Comment by shelleyrae@ Book'd Out | October 29, 2010 | Reply

  11. […] Then the Book Publicity Blog took this idea and ran with it. […]

    Pingback by Weeklings: Tess Gerritsen, Orlando Figes, Patrick Bateman, Shirley Jackson, and Nancy Pearl : The Booklist Reader | November 18, 2014 | Reply

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