Friday, August 7, 2009

No, I Haven't Read That Not-Yet-Released Book Yet

There are many things I can do with my time, but one duty that calls to me (siren-like) is cleaning the galley shelf. I want to make sure the upcoming titles are clearly visible (eye-level is best) and the older books are gone.

In a new wrinkle, both the cases we use in our break room are rather unstable. If we pile to heavily, the shelf collapses.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I'm not seeing the hotter titles that I once did. And yet our galley shelf is totally filled with just-released and soon-to-be-published titles. So what are we seeing?

1. Thrillers, especially from first-time authors, or genre authors with hopes for breakout.

2. Book clubby (I like to call it middlebrow, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean, readers often like it, but while it's considered significant enough to possibly get reviews in the highbrow media, they are usually mixed.)

3. Totally depends on the rep. John Eklund at Harvard/Yale/MIT is obviously feeding us more books than other reps, where we're much lower on the radar.

4. Certain publishers seem to distribute much larger selections of books to indie bookstores than others. Overlook has likely flooded bookstores with galleys for their novel A Quiet Belief in Angels. By "flood", I mean three. It's a evocative serial killer thriller (a series of grisly murders in a boy's Georgia hometown, he grows up to be a New York writer, only to be privy to another crime linked to the murders back home), with enough literary overtones (like the author is British) to perhaps get some critical attention and handsells.

What are we not seeing:

1. Established track writers in the thriller genre. We used to see a lot of these. Published less than once a year and fully not at dependable bestseller levels, or changing publishers? Then we'll see them--Joseph Finder comes to mind.

2. Serious nonfiction. For the nonfiction areas I like to read (perhaps you wouldn't call them serious) such as urban planning and city histories, behavioral psychology and economics, I'm not seeing much. The cooking lit (foodie books) seem more likely to be found, well the memoirish stuff. Cookbooks, on the other hand, almost never.

If I read history, I'd be out of luck. This almost deserves its own post.

3. Small-print fiction from large houses. Exceptions include pet projects, and books that are expected to start out small and grow over time.
And what of the high-profile literary books? We're seeing them, but often one copy. And as I mentioned before, it would not be fair for me to hog them all. That's not what they were meant for. One of my booksellers (actually more than one) mentioned working for a chain bookstore and never seeing advanced reader copies. Oh, they were getting them, but all of them went home with the store manager.

Sometimes it's not such a bad thing. There are wonderful surprises on the galley shelf. But sometimes you just want to read Superfreakonomics or the new collection of Malcolm Gladwell essays (both currently set for 10/20), which is odd, because I have a subscription to The New Yorker.

1 comment:

Dylan said...

If it makes you feel any better, we haven't gotten any galleys of Superfreakonomics or What the Dog Saw here either.