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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Backlist Not to Miss: Georgette Heyer

Over on the horror blog, I have an occasional series entitled Backlist Not to Miss.  And, while I don't do the same series here, I do make it a point to argue for the library's biggest asset over book stores, the backlist, frequently.  Click here to access posts that I have tagged backlist.

Too frequently the mainstream press on the publishing industry is all about the newest books and the latest sensations.  I get it, this sells magazines and draws in viewers and readers.  What is new is always in demand in every facet of our modern American lives.

But, there is one exception I found in this past Saturday's Wall Street Journal Books section-- when a backlist author has a new book written about them.

In the article, "The Escape Artist," Alexandra Mullen writes an appreciation of the new biography of Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester.

For many I would guess that Heyer's is a name you have heard, and you may even vaguely associate her with romance, but you probably have not read her yourself.  However, Heyer's books sit on the shelves at most public libraries, and if you check your circulation stats, they are checked out regularly. Some of mine are check out right now and all have circulated in the last 9 months!  Yet, I can't recall the last time I directed a reader to a Heyer book.

Before I go further, here is Heyer in a nutshell from NoveList:
Georgette Heyer is best known for her Regency- and Georgian-era romantic comedies of manners, but she also wrote other historical fiction and mysteries during the "Golden Age" of the twentieth century. Her historicals are remarkable both for the extent of her research and the consistency with which she portrayed her settings, bringing them to life with carefully chosen details. The wit and style of her characters and lightness and humor of her plots combine with the vividly-portrayed settings and a touch of suspense to produce entertaining stories to which many fans return again and again.
Okay back to the backlist issue.  I am glad Kloester's book is bring attention back to this fabulous writer.  With the continuing popularity of all things Jane Austen, it is important to note that Heyer has been described on NoveList as writing like "Austen distilled." She is an author we should be directing more readers to.  Thankfully they find her on their own, but we could be doing more.

This is the bad side of the backlist.  We have all of these great books at the library, but even the most diligent of us forget to suggest them to patrons.  We succumb to the shininess of the new too.

So thank you Kloester for reminding us of Heyer with your new book. And as a RA training point, we should take note when backlist authors have new books or articles written about them and use it as a chance to remind ourselves of all of the great older titles still lurking on our shelves, begging to be matched with a reader.

Personally, I will try to be more diligent about focusing on the backlist here on the blog. I like to follow the "lead by example" mantra.  But, in the meantime, if you have any backlist authors you want me to highlight, contact me.

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