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Friday, August 24, 2018

Backlist is Our Greatest Asset And Here’s Proof [With A Bonus Ready-Made Display]

I have literally said it a thousand times at this point, but the thing libraries have that the bookstores do not is THE BACKLIST. As Jason, the co- owner of The Book Table told me, “We have the last 4 or 5 Stephen King’s and the 4 or 5 most popular backlist titles. Everything else, requires us to order it for the customer. But you, you have an entire shelf of every Stephen King ever!” That is from a talk Jason and I used to do about bookstores and libraries working together for library workers.

He would go on to talk about out-of-print books. The library has them. The bookstores do not. It’s one of the reasons he also carries some used books, to get those out-of-print titles for his customers. We would often call each other when I was at the library near him to see if one of us had a book the other did not.

The backlist is our biggest asset. And, what do you do with your best asset? You play it up. For example, why do you think Michelle Obama always wears sleeveless dresses? 

This time of year is a great time to do that. BookFinder.com has just released their annual report of the most in demand out-of-print titles. Below I have the beginning of their most recent report and the link to the full list.

But here’s the thing. The 3 most in demand titles-- Arranged Marriage by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, and You Shall Know Our Velocity Dave Eggers are all available at jus about every public library in America right now, or if not on the shelf in that location, very easily available through ILL. As proof, I have linked to my consortia’s catalog records for each title. And I know all of them will send out nationally. Right now, I can get all 3 in multiple formats right away.

The report also talks about WHY people want to read these books. This analysis can also serve as a trends report for us. Below you will see they talk about the popularity of immigration and women’s rights stories. You can use the trends they have mentioned from their aggregation of the data to come up with further readalike lists or display ideas.

My point is, these are books people want to read- either the specific book or a trending topic- and they can easily get them at the library if only people knew. 


Take this year’s list and past year’s lists to make a fun display of hard to find books that are very easy to find at the library. Here is the handy index of every list from this year’s report going back to 2003 from the good people at BookFinder.com

Between all of those lists you have plenty for a display, an outside the box idea, and one that really showcases the library’s greatest asset--- the backlist. This is a display patrons will notice because they do not think about all the great backlist titles they could be reading. Everyone is too distracted by the shiny, new, sparkly titles, and yet, there are many more good options languishing on the shelf waiting for that perfect reader to find them.

Have fun and if you do one of these displays, share it with me. Here’s the different ways you can contact me.

Here’s this year’s report.

15th Annual BookFinder.com Report Out-of-print 

and in demand

Welcome to the 15th annual BookFinder.com Report, in which we publish a list of the most searched for out-of-print book titles from the previous year. The most wanted out-of-print book in 2017 was a collection of short stories addressing the issues facing Indian girls and women in arranged marriages who come to live in the United States as immigrants.
Highly topical due to the current focus on women's rights in India and the debate on immigration in the States, Arranged Marriage by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was published in 1996, but is now winning a new readership. Divakaruni, who lives in the US, is best known as a poet and this was her first foray into short story writing. The 11 stories detail numerous problems associated of arranged marriages from physical abuse to psychological torment - and also highlights the problems in starting a new life in a country with a radically different culture.
Divakaruni was born in Kolkata and came to the United States in 1976 to study at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and the University of California, Berkeley. Since writing Arranged Marriage, she has produced several novels and her latest, Before We Visit the Goddess, was published in 2017. Her novel, The Mistress of Spices, published in 1997, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.
Arranged Marriage was not the only book about immigration to appear on the BookFinder.com list. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, first published in 2003, is a novel about coming to the United States that spans Kolkata, Boston and New York. The last edition to be published was in India in 2012. The BookFinder.com list of in-demand out-of-print titles also contains novels from bestselling authors Neal Stephenson, Dave Eggers, and Jonathan Lethem. Aside from books that appear year after year (Sex by Madonna, Fast Times at Ridgemont High etc), there are also a sprinkling of books covering niche subjects such as knots, reptiles and coins.
Arranged Marriage The Namesake Cryptonomicon

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