I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Resource Alert: The Millions' "Book Previews"-- Both Current and Backlist

I am a huge fan of the 2x a year "Great" Book previews by The Millions, but not only for the obvious reasons of collection development.

The Millions puts out monthly anticipation lists, but I am specifically talking about the "Great First-Half" and "Great Second-Half" lists they put out. These have so many uses. I used my librarian skills to create a search that excludes the monthly previews and pulls up every year's first and second half previews with this one click. Having the backlist of options is key to everything I will say here.

Now on to my explanation of all of the ways you can use these previews, current and past, to help patrons.

Collection Development: As I mentioned above, this is the most obvious reason to use these lists. You can go through them to learn about the most anticipated titles and get them on order. This list is especially helpful at identifying midlist gems. Titles that the editors think will gain traction but may not have the largest marketing plans and/or from lesser known authors. Even if they don't end up becoming break out hits, the fact that these editors identified them early is enough reason to have them in our library collections. The midlist are often some of our best "sure bets," titles we can suggest to readers with confidence ones that they would not know about with out us. They are also more likely to be on the shelf.

This year, especially, those of  you who do collection  development should go back and check the first half preview to see if you missed anything. But also, go back and read the last few years of previews. Look for authors you now know about, make sure you have their earlier books. Since the list is annotated, you can also read the blurbs about each book and see what trends have emerged now that maybe didn't catch on  then. Grab those titles and promote them as "new" because to your patrons they are new.

Displays: New books get their own display space, but what about great titles from the last 1-4 years that are in your collections, smashed between other books, not being highlighted, but are still a great option. We are always looking for ways  to get our high interest, backlist titles out in front of patrons. Well, these lists are just what you and your patrons are looking for. There are so many titles, from so many years that you could go through them one at a time. Make a display [online lists with catalog links and in building traditional displays] by year. For example, flashback to 2016's hottest books. And then put all the ones you own out and watch them fly off the shelves. Make it interactive by asking people what their favorite read from 2016 was and then make a second display of patron [and staff] picks from 2016. Then feature another year. Do one a month. Patrons will LOVE  IT. And your administration and board will also love it because your  backlist will be circulating. Most of our investment collections-wise is in our backlist. Help it shine, collect data on the increase in circulation, and then get it into Board reports. Everybody wins!

Conversation Starter: I alluded to this above as a way to engage patrons in a conversation about their favorite books of "yore" for display, but in general these lists are a great conversation starter, especially online. And even more especially, on Goodreads. Why? Because if you get a library account and ask your patrons questions about their favorite books from 2017 on Goodreads, they can just go to their shelf and see what books they gave the most stars to that year. They are already in the space where the answers to your questions are. You could also start this convo on other social media platforms and link to the Goodreads conversation too. Those who use Instagram, post pictures of your physical displays and start a conversation about that year on that platform. There are many possibilities to start conversations about lesser known titles here.

Booktalks: One of my main mantras as I encourage more staff to actively participate in RA Service is to remind people that they can and should use the words of others as they suggest books to potential readers. These lists are all fully annotated, with a prepared soundbite that you can share with patrons. Obviously you  want to share books you own, but there is no excuse to not hand sell these titles if they are in your collections. You start by saying it was a hot title in, for example, 2018 and then read the blurb. If they seem interested you can pull the physical book or look up reviews on NoveList [professional opinions] and Goodreads [regular reader opinions] for more information. But the hardest part of your job-- finding a high interest title that is readily available and having something well thought out to say about it-- well that is done for you with these lists.

Covers: Finally, the least important reason I love this resource but a nice bonus, the cover is right there with the book's entry. Covers tell us a lot about a book [I have discussed it  many times and you can click here to read more on how to use covers in your service to readers] and having the cover in front of you before you pull the book is extremely helpful.

Please check out this year's and past year's previews and use them to make your job easier and your patron's happier.

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