Where Books Come From

Whether it goes anywhere, I’m thoroughly enjoying reviewing books. It gets me to read more (not like that’s really a problem). I get a hold of books before they’re released to the public. I read things I may not pick up on my own. It may become something I can do for local papers. It gives me something to put on the blog in what’s looking to be a slow (dare I say nonexistent) travel year.



My previous source for advance reading copies (ARCs, doncha know) was through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer (ER) program. LibraryThing puts up a monthly list of available titles and you click “request” for each one you want a crack at. From there, it’s a weighted lottery. If you review books you received from previous ER lists, you have a better chance of getting another one than someone who’s never reviewed before and an even better chance of getting another than someone who’s received previous ER books, but not reviewed them.

Quite frankly, the last couple of ER books I received were boring duds that I couldn’t get through and ended up not reviewing. That said, I’ve discovered some amazing books this way, and if you like to read, I recommend signing up for a LibraryThing account and joining the ER group.

My other source for ARCs was emailing publishers directly. Thanks to a PR Newswire account, I get daily digests of entertainment releases. Sprinkled among announcements that Checkers is opening a new restaurant and whatever the Census Bureau is flogging that day are notices of upcoming books. A lot of these are self-published books, with the occasional book from a major publisher tossed in.

When I started, I was amazed that I could email a publisher (big or small), tell them I had a blog where I posted reviews and they’d send me a free book. Let me repeat that: they’d send me a free book. Score. After a while, a couple publishers added me to their regular list and I’d get unsolicited books in the mail.

Let me tell you, in this day of electronic communication as the norm, my mailbox generally hosts checks my credit cards want me to use to run up a high-interest balance, exhortations from Doctors Without Borders to give them more money or local coupons I will never use. Opening the mailbox door seems pointless, and I’ve often thought I should slap a recycling logo on it and ask my trash guys to empty it out every other week on their normal recycling run.

So looking in the mailbox and seeing a brown, padded envelope always sends a shiver of anticipation up my spine.

Does the return address say “Random House,” “Simon and Schuster?” Heck, anything with “book” and/or “publisher” in the address sends me skipping up the driveway to the front door. I don’t even take my shoes off before I’m pulling the pull-tab on the envelope. If you know me, you know this is of huge significance.

I even have a special box in my library (yes, I have a room in my house that is just a library if you discount the shelves where I keep vases and the good china) for books to be reviewed. This is a separate box from the box of newly purchased books to be read before being shelved. And separate from what used to be a box but is now a series of piles of books I don’t need to own anymore but haven’t gotten around to donating yet.

None of this is what I was going to blog about today. I planned on writing about my new source for ARCs and the mechanics of reviewing. Ah well, that may show up later this week.

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