Director of Intent

November 22, 2010

Reading in the Galley

I will never forget the first time I saw a stack of galley proofs. It was my first day as a bookseller, and part of the morning's training included a rundown about the proliferation and overall wonderfulness of advance readers and uncorrected proofs.  Sure the discount for buying books was pretty generous, but these were free and unreleased to the public at large. It all made sense, but I had to just stare at those perfectly bound paperbacks for a while, letting it all soak in. I was pretty broke at the time, so it actually soaked in rather quickly

There was no order to the little library that rested before me, unless you counted the dust accumulation on certain titles that served to provide a chronological order of release dates. On that day, I realized that most of my coworkers were not overly excited about self help manifestos, cutesy chapbooks on team building, or first-time releases by Californian authors. Feeling a sense of camaraderie, it was time to plunge beneath those very niches and see what bounty was to be had in the dregs of the free pile.

On the way home that evening, an ARC of Jonathan Carroll's "The Wooden Sea" sat on the passenger seat. I had heard of the author before, but the main selling point was undoubtedly the hallucinatory coolness printed on the outer wrap. That, and it didn't have a dedication to God, Jack Welsh, or motivational body builders. 

Jonathan Carroll went on to become one of my favorite authors. That one promotional copy generated a feverish spending spree as I accumulated his entire backlist in the form of trade paperbacks, hardcover first editions (UK editions particularly), and the occasional signed edition. Every frontlist title Carroll has since released is typically in my hands within days of hitting the bookstore. Visual merchandising of his works through the use of shelf talkers and good ol' fashioned handselling have contributed to spreading a little Carrollian magic into the libraries of many, many others. 

All of this was initiated through a free galley proof provided by a hopeful publisher. It worked.

With this story in mind, I am thrilled to have joined NetGalley. The folks at NetGalley have constructed a way for many publishers to securely share the digital versions of their galleys. It's a cozy experience finding the titles that interest you, and then you simply request a galley. Within hours, I had several of my requests approved, and the requested texts were simply a download away. They have a 60-day digital lifespan, similar to the DRM-structure found in Overdrive texts from your local library.

Thus far, here are the titles that I am currently digging into for digital review:

Pub Date
View All Titles by:
Peterson Field Guides
Orbit Books

I am really grateful to the folks behind this endeavor, as the concept of digital galleys was always one fraught with fears of piracy and technophobia. The roster of publishers that are present on the site shows that such preconceived notions are changing. Furthermore, I no longer have to contend with the bookstore darlings who always managed to have first grabs at the most choice incoming galleys.

In the meantime, I have some texts to read and reviews to cook up.